In the current discussions about what rules need to be added to our game, we tend to overlook the pre-existing rules that are not enforced adequately.
The contention here is simple: if you implement a rule, enforce it. If you don’t want to, then scrap it.
The substitute rule rode this argument from its inception and despite backlash from the community, the AFL didn’t back down on it.
However, now they don’t believe it has a role in the game, with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan confirming on Footy Classified last night that it would be scrapped at the end of the season.
The first and most obvious rule in this category is the deliberately rushed behind.
The rule, brought into the game in 2009, was designed to stop teams from wasting time at the end of games and encourage them to keep the ball in play.
Unfortunately, the rule has been enforced with the large asterisk that if there is any pressure on the ball carrier, they may rush the behind.
For this reason, umpires have been incredibly cautious and lenient with this rule, with only two deliberately rushed behinds paid in the entirety of the 2014 season.
This is not a rule that should be scrapped as it still serves the purpose of restricting time wasting. However, it needs to be enforced more often as deliberately rushed behinds with no pressure on the individual are certainly becoming more frequent again.
Putting it simply, the rule that kicks have to go 15 metres has become a joke.
Each umpire has his own interpretation of the rule and with no guaranteed way for them to measure each kick, it has become a subjective rule.
The rule itself makes sense, but with no way to legitimately enforce it, howlers keep creeping in with kicks easily less than 10 metres being paid. By the same token, kicks that go across goal – with distance between point posts measuring at 19.2 metres – are adjudicated as not going the required distance.
There doesn’t really seem to be a solution for this one either.
It can’t be scrapped because you can’t have one metre kicks being paid, but you can’t really improve it or track the distance of kicks due to the speed of the game.
Seemingly, our frustrations here will probably remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.
Incorrect disposal is a rule that has been pushed aside to maintain the speed of the game.
Usually, if a player is dispossessed in a tackle and the ball spills free, the umpire will throw his arms up and allow the game to go on.
This has created a problem where, once again, a rule has become completely subjective with umpires deeming what the ‘right amount’ of incorrect disposal is and what isn’t.
The obvious throws and drops still get paid, but at the same time, just as many get missed or ignored.
The solution here is to simply crackdown on incorrect disposal of the ball and with people complaining about the amount of stoppages, this might actually ease congestion.
However, this rule is just as much an issue of the umpires not being able to see how a ball spills out of a contest.
Another solution is to add a fourth umpire on the ground, as was trialled during the NAB Challenge, while umpire Jordan Bannister has said that it was a much needed change.
A fourth umpire means that there will almost always be an umpire facing the contest, meaning they’ll be able to see when a ball is incorrectly disposed of.
The AFL has since announced this morning that they will in fact trial a fourth umpire on the ground during the round 19 Q-Clash.
Finally, the kicking in danger rule is another simple one that needs to be addressed.
With new rules protecting a player whose legs are taken out in a contest by a player going lower, the kicking in danger rule has almost been put aside.
Players want to keep the ball moving but they also want to keep their feet: this can create dangerous situations with players going for the ball at ground level.
This is not a rule that is poorly officiated, but it would be a good one to bring back into vogue as all it takes is one to cause a serious injury.