Cannot believe that the example chosen from the Ess-North game was of Marty Gleeson?? How about that Thomas flog?
"AFL introduces new rule against ducking
June 1, 2015 - 9:35PM
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Caroline Wilson and Matt Murnane
AFL general manager of football operations Mark Evans
AFL general manager of football operations Mark Evans Photo: Mal Fairclough
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The AFL has taken the radical step of introducing a mid-season rule change after concerns that players were willingly risking head injuries by ducking into contests.
Football operations boss Mark Evans on Monday wrote to the 18 clubs to alert them to the change that will see free kicks awarded against players leading with their heads. The change will take place from round 10 and follows an impassioned argument by Richmond’s Brendon Gale at last month’s chief executives’ meeting.
Gale’s view was reinforced during the North Melbourne-Essendon game in round seven when Bomber Martin Gleeson led with his head into a contest with North’s Sam Gibson, prompting Gale to voice his fears via social media about serious injury risk.
A fortnight ago, umpires boss Wayne Campbell clarified the competition’s concerns, stressing that the umpires were not concerned with the practice of players dropping their knees or shrugging and receiving free kicks but more with the issue of protecting heads and necks when footballers led into tackles or contests.
Campbell said then of a potential rule change: “It is an option. It is an extreme option, but it’s certainly raised by some people. We need to disincentivise someone trying to draw a free-kick through searching with their head for contact.”
Evans said the umpiring department, headed by Campbell and head coach Hayden Kennedy, had been consulting all club football departments in recent weeks.
“The onus is on the tackler to tackle the player with the ball legally. What we have begun to see in the game is the player with the ball driving his head toward a tackler or leaning into a tackler in order to receive a free-kick,” Evans said.
“The change of interpretation that will be immediately enacted from this weekend of matches … requires the player with the ball to not contribute to high contact by driving or leading with his head into a tackling player.”
Under the changes:
■ Any movement where a player drives or leads with their head into a stationary or near-stationary tackler will be deemed as a drive and will be umpired as the player with the ball having had “prior opportunity”.
■ The player must immediately kick or handball or a free kick for holding the ball, under the prior opportunity rule, will be paid against him.
Evans said the tackling player will still be required not to be reckless or indiscriminate with his approach to the player with the ball.
Campbell appeared on Fox Footy on Monday night to explain the interpretation change, with Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley and Melbourne counterpart Paul Roos present to quiz him on the issue.
At one point, Buckley asked Campbell whether the change would make the rule easier or harder to enforce, to which he replied: "Harder, it’s easier to be consistent when you just pay the high contact.
“But there has been a groundswell to change,” he added.
That groundswell had come, Campbell said, from coaches such as Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson and Sydney’s John Longmire.
Campbell said their views and those of other key figures in the industry had been put to the laws of the game committee, who then “unanimously” endorsed the changes the AFL detailed on Monday.
Campbell said a key element umpires had to guard against in light of the change was ensuring that the onus on the tackler was the same as it had been in the previous nine rounds.
“What we can’t have with this interpretational change is for there to be open season on the guy with the ball,” he said.
“What we are looking for with the tackler is that they have planted their feet, so that means they won’t be moving forward into the player with the ball.”
Campbell said the AFL hoped the change would tighten up the “loose interpretation” to the head-high rule that the league introduced 18 months ago, an interpretation which umpires used to pay just one free-kick for the entire 2014 season.