As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The AFL’s constant tweaking with the rules over the past few years has reached breaking point 9 weeks into the 2016 home and away season.
Last week it was reported that a memo was sent to the clubs warning that a stricter interpretation was about to be applied to the rushed behind rule.
Hawthorn Acting Captain Jordan Lewis said it best on AFL 360 on Fox Footy last night. ‘Why is there a rule of the week?’ Why can’t the umpiring and interpretations be the same from week to week?
It is a fair point. I’d go further and ask why the umpires stopped penalising the deliberate rushed behind in the first place? It disappeared for a good few seasons. Not how I understood rules to work. They’re either there or they’re not.
It’s no different to the police suddenly not penalising speeding for a while only for a few years later to go, actually no we are going to start policing that again, albeit with the law staying the same the whole time.
As fans, all we ask for is consistency. If clubs are getting memos and different rules are being focussed upon from week to week, we are a long way from where we need to be in terms of policing the game. If fans are confused, you can bet your bottom dollar, umpires and players are as well.
This is no more evident than with the deliberate out of bounds rule, which may have reduced stoppages and opened the game up, but lead to massive uncertainty from players, umpires and fans alike. Players even now stand at the boundary line, not contesting the ball waiting for it to go out so that they receive a free kick. That’s not AFL.
Port Adelaide defender Tom Jonas’ hit on Andrew Gaff over the weekend reignited the send off rule debate. Could you imagine the muddle and potentially game changing consequences this law could cause in today’s footy environment.
If the open style play, with fewer stoppages is the way the game needs to go, great. But let’s not have another rule change for say 5 years. Allow the umpires to work out how to consistently interpret all the current rules. Focus then on interpreting these laws the same way every game, every week.
Who knows, that might also help to open the game up, and it will surely aid fans, players and umpires with understanding a bit more why decisions are being made.