The Roar
The Roar

Stirling Coates

Editor

Joined March 2012

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Stirling Coates started out as an AFL crowd contributor, and is now one of The Roar's editors.

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If the top four ends up as Port, Brisbane, Geelong and St Kilda, I’d take the Cats’ iffy September record over three unprovens. West Coast (and where they’re made to play) could be the difference.

It's time to recognise the Cats as premiership favourites

They still need to prove they can play as well away from Perth before they deserve equal favouritism.

It's time to recognise the Cats as premiership favourites

I have a very big soft spot for Gary Rohan and I reckon he cops way more than he deserves.

It's time to recognise the Cats as premiership favourites

I want to guess Clark Keating but I don’t actually know.

Are ruckmen the most important players in our game?

I thought the umpires got both decisions just plain wrong, unfortunately.

I’d like to see the ‘deliberate out of bounds’ law changed to ‘unnecessary out of bounds’ or something similar and it would be awarded for three reasons only;

1) Attempting to gain territory or avoid a tackle by kicking or handballing the ball out of bounds with no teammates in the vicinity.
2) Attempting to avoid a tackle by clearly and obviously stepping out of bounds, or attempting to move out of bounds while being tackled to force a stoppage/avoid a free kick.
3) Knocking the ball out of bounds to deprive an opponent of possession where the player could have reasonably taken possession themselves. For the avoidance of doubt, a player who knocks the ball into space and makes a reasonable effort to possess the ball before it travels out of bounds will not be penalised – nor will a player who spoils the ball over the line in a marking contest.

What ever happened to interpretation?

That’s not ‘always’ called holding the ball at all – if a player has been pinged for that it’s because they had prior opportunity. It’s quicker for the umpire to say ‘holding the ball, incorrect disposal’ rather than ‘holding the ball, had prior opportunity and, although you made an attempt, that’s only play on if you didn’t have prior opportunity – you needed to correctly dispose of the ball in this instance.’

Following the letter of the law absolutely does not say making an attempt will never get you pinged.

Umpiring in 2020: Why are we getting angry and how can we fix it?

Last point is spot on. As I noted, when GWS beat them, they had the lowest disposal efficiency of any Richmond opponent this year – it’s clear the Tigers don’t like a contested slog.

How each side wins tonight's grand final preview

Strange old year this. The only thing I’m sure of is today ends with a ‘y’.

How each side wins tonight's grand final preview

Ah how could I forget?! Yes, Carlton vs Port was an absolute blinder.

How each side wins tonight's grand final preview

Sounds good Brendon 👍

Just make a note of the match and when it happened and I’ll have a look.

Umpiring in 2020: Why are we getting angry and how can we fix it?

I think the umpires do a much better job with holding the ball than they get credit for. Some of the things you hear players, coaches and commentators say about HTB is absurdly wrong and it muddies the waters. I’m constantly shaking my head when I watch the telly.

Clarko’s sway at AFL HQ has made their job a lot more difficult over the last few weeks, however. A lot of holding the ball calls have been paid despite the ball clearly being pinned to a tackled player – nobody wants to see that.

Fair points again on front-on contact. I think we probably agree more on this subject than we think; I think it gets called too much and the tiggy-touchwood frees where someone makes minimal content should get waved off. I’m interested to see what recent examples of front-on contact being called you disagree with.

Umpiring in 2020: Why are we getting angry and how can we fix it?

As someone who used to umpire and actually coached junior umpires once upon a time, it’s nice to see someone else finally consult the lawbook when penning an article on the rules!

I’ll jump in with a couple of my thoughts and clarifications.

Holding the ball
The ‘decision flowchart’ I was taught (and subsequently taught) for holding the ball was as follows;

1) Is it a tackle? Yes; continue, no (bump, push, tackle didn’t stick etc); play on.
2) Was the tackle legal? Yes; continue, no (high, in the back etc); free kick to tackled player.
3) Did the tackled player have prior opportunity? Yes; see ‘Prior’, no; see ‘no prior’

Player had prior opportunity
4) Has the player immediately and correctly disposed of the ball? Yes; play on, no: holding the ball. There is no other correct outcome in this scenario.

Player did not have prior opportunity
4) Was the ball knocked loose in the tackle? Yes; play on, no: continue.
5) Has the ball been pinned to the player or to the ground? Yes; ball up, no: continue.
6) Is the player making a genuine attempt to dispose of the ball (trying to handball) or did the player make a genuine attempt to dispose of the ball (tried to kick, but was swung off balance and missed)? Yes; ball up/play on, no: holding the ball.

Sounds like an absolute dilemma to think about reading it for the first time, but I found it became second nature quite quickly when I was umpiring. That won’t explain everything, but that’s how I adjudicated holding the ball when I umpired and it’s how just about everyone around me was taught to as well.

Front-on contact
It probably gets paid a bit too much, but I don’t necessarily agree with your interpretation of the laws. If a player doesn’t have their eyes on the ball, the umpire tends to adjudge that spoiling/marking the ball is no longer their sole objective. It might still be their primary objective, but if they’ve turned around and jumped towards an opponent in calculated hope that they might spoil the ball and that contact has caused a player who had their eyes on the ball the whole time not to mark it, I’d want to see a free kick paid.

Ruck contests
Definitely agree here, a lot of ruck free kicks I see paid are just the other guy getting overpowered. Laws 17.4.3 (b) (your example) and (c) (holds or blocks) should go – (d) (prohibited contact) and (e) (rough conduct) adequately cover things.

After-the-goal free kicks
You’ve got this one a bit mixed up I’m afraid. The law you’ve brought up describes the procedure for free kicks after the siren has sounded and the quarter (or match) has ended and simply clarifies that, if a player has scored a goal after the siren and his teammate got infringed while it was in flight, just record the goal and don’t worry about it.

The law you want is 15.4.2 (a). The umpires were correct to let the goal stand, award Papley a free kick close to goal and record a second goal. However, if they’d picked up Sinclair’s push (which they should’ve) and reversed the free kick, Hawthorn would have received a free kick in the centre of the ground – not at full back. All free kicks are awarded either where the infringement occurred, or where the ball was at the time – whichever is the greater penalty. After a goal has been scored, the ball is considered to be in the middle of the ground.

Fifty-metre penalties
These are really important for mine and I don’t think they’re too harsh at all. The things 50-metre penalties penalise are things that would make the game unwatchable if they were allowed to happen and I think, to use an analogy, it’s important people who go 5km/h over the limit get the full whack so people don’t go 20km/h over.

Really, really good piece. Don’t interpret my lengthy reply as a criticism, it’s an endorsement of your piece being intelligent enough to warrant such discussion.

Umpiring in 2020: Why are we getting angry and how can we fix it?

Glad you enjoyed the piece. Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield have indeed been superb – there’s just only so many words to go around. As they say, articles are never finished – just published!

How far can the new-look Saints go marching?

A fair assessment Brendon. I’m hoping both the Saints and Power keep building and give us a new set of faces atop the ladder.

How far can the new-look Saints go marching?

Their match against GWS, whenever that is, will be really interesting. Giants seem to love absorbing hundreds of inside 50s – will be curious to see whose style prevails.

How far can the new-look Saints go marching?

It’s been a tough old time for Saints fans since those grand finals – I, like many others, thought they had 2010 in the bag after Goddard’s mark.

As long as they’re as fun to watch as they are right now, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for them.

How far can the new-look Saints go marching?

Surprised me when I was doing my research too. Good to see a team playing attacking footy, hopefully they’re rewarded for it.

How far can the new-look Saints go marching?

It’s also because players can take the advantage from a free kick, which they can’t do from a mark.

Has Nathan Buckley uncovered a solution to congestion?

I’d say every season of Coniglio’s since 2016 has been elite and the same for Kelly since 2017 – but they’ve both had major drop-offs this year. Nick Haynes is also quite underrated and deserves a mention.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

Their rucking is absolutely awful and Jacobs has been a huge letdown so far. I’ll bet they really, really wish they’d kept Rory Lobb.

Mumford will retire too at the end of this season, but I can’t imagine he’s on enough coin for it to seriously impact the re-signings.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

Not a bad shout. Giants players have been spoken of like a commodity for a long time so it’s no surprise some would view themselves that way.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

Don’t know if I agree they’re overrated, but Deledio’s comments about them being too individualistic is a worry and you’re right about De Boer.

Work beats talent unless talent works, as they say.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

That’d be a disaster, but not out of the question. I reckon they can fit Cameron and Williamson in if Shaw retires and they sacrifice a second-tier player. They have the advantage of most of their out-of-contract crop being local/academy kids so they’re not fighting against the go-home factor.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

Losing grand finals heavily actually does have a strong correlation with a poor follow-up season – was going to include a section on that originally but it just didn’t fit with the rest of the piece.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly

I’d be surprised if they miss the eight but, on current form, they look like an EF loser at best.

The Giants aren't wobbling, they're in serious strife - and they need to get it right quickly