The AFL has been rumoured to announce its second change to the interchange rules in three years as an interchange rotation limit of 80 over the course of a full game has been recommended by the league’s laws committee.
Despite suggestions that there may be two substitutes and two bench players, it is speculated that there will continue to be one sub and three bench players.
The new system will allow players to rest for the same amount of time as the 2012 season, just for longer periods of time.
If this rule was brought in back in the 90s or even the early 00s when the game was not a fast and frenetic battle of athletes against athletes, this rule change would have some plausibility behind it. However, the rule seems extremely outdated, despite only just being added to the laws of the game.
The average number of rotations between 2007 and 2010 rose dramatically, with just a modest 56 changes per team per game being made back in 2007 and 117 changes per team per game in 2010.
That number has only continued to rise, going up to 119 in 2011 and 131 this season. Teams will now have to cut off around 50 rotations per game under the new law.
Rotations are a pivotal part of the modern game. No longer does football consist of solely long bombs to packs; it is now a physical challenge just to get possession of the ball, let alone run and carry with it. Players cover an incredible amount of ground in all positions and as a result, they need time to recover on the bench.
Although the new rule won’t necessarily bother those with excellent endurance, players that work best by exerting a lot of energy, resting and repeating in a short amount of time will be heavily affected.
If the AFL is trying to guide the modern game down safe road injury-wise, as it is trying to do with its stance on knocks to the head, then those behind this decision would realise that capping rotations at 80 is only going to heighten the risk of injury.
Chances are teams will come out in 2013 and play a relatively similar game style to that of this season. Although there will be time in the pre-season to adapt, it’s not easy for players and coaches to change their tactics drastically enough to work around only 80 rotations per game after years of no limitations.
As a result, the probability of soft-tissues occurring is going to rise, as players will be going hard at the football and exerting just as much energy as when there was no rotation cap. With less time to recover, their bodies will be under a large amount of stress over the course of both a single game and the full season.
Don’t be surprised if we see a lot of chip-chip footy that we all hate to watch. In order to go hard at the footy over a long period of time, your body needs to slow down and recover. With quick rotations no longer an option, chipping the footy around the backline will
It’s easy to see what the AFL is trying to do, but it is going on the assumption that the game can easily be altered to run at a slower pace. Don’t be surprised to see some of the best burst players in the competitions have a lesser output than that of recent years.
There really is no reason to have an interchange cap; it doesn’t lower the likelihood of injury and it doesn’t make the game any more attractive. It appears that yet another unnecessary hurdle has been setup for players and teams to jump over.