One week down the road from Round 20’s clash between West Coast and Geelong, the umpiring decisions are still being questioned by supporters and football media personalities, especially regarding the knuckling down on deliberate free kicks, totalling up to nine for the game.
Although the Eagles came away with the four points, the home crowd at Patersons Stadium was filthy with the majority of decisions made by field umpires Matt Stevic, Justin Schmitt and Troy Pannell.
Stevic, who was interviewed on Bound for Glory, opened up about the decisions made during that game as well as plenty of areas of umpiring that are making supporters disgruntled.
“We as umpires simply weigh up what is the player’s intention,” Stevic commented regarding the deliberate out of bounds free kick rule. “If we believe it is his intention, whether it be to kick, handball or knock the ball over the boundary line, we will penalise that.
“There’s still between forty and fifty boundary throw ins per game. Of that, we’re paying on average about one a game. It just happened that one game last week, we paid nine.”
Stevic was also questioned about whether the AFL had previously been too lenient when it comes to the deliberate out of bounds rule.
“No, we’ve never been lenient.”
“Given there’s forty, fifty or sixty different rules we need to interpret and there’s nine games a week, it’s a bloody difficult job to officiate. What can happen is some weeks, for whatever reason, we might just miss some clearly obvious ones.”
Geelong coach Chris Scott was livid with the umpiring and was quick to say so in his post-game press conference, going as far as saying the interpretation of the deliberate out of bounds rule was “embarrassing”.
“I don’t listen too much to what goes on outside,” Stevic said in reply. “Most importantly, in terms of our role, we need to listen to our coach.”
One of the biggest issues for fans is the perceived changing of rules and interpretations each week. Stevic was happy to shed some light on the issue.
“The reality is we might miss a few on a given week, we get some coaching around that area plus some other areas that we might be going not so well on, and then we go out the next week and we get those right.
“What happens is usually we go out as a group, we get those right, and then people all of a sudden think we’re changing the interpretations.”
To hear the entire interview with umpire Matt Stevic, listen to the replay of Bound for Glory.