CHANGE THE RULES OR THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM?

As round one fast approaches, watching the AFL’s series of new rules and changes to rule interpretation for the 2013 season is well worth a watch.

IN an effort to be better informed on the game, I’ve taken a ‘captain cook’ at the videos that make up the series. All I can say at this point is that I wish the umpiring fraternity the very, very best of luck throughout the 2013 season.

Watching the holding the ball interpretation for this year, they’re going to need it.

The video begins by clarifying prior opportunity. Maybe Gia was pinged by Josh Hunt, but am I alone in thinking Dane Swan, Tim Mohr and Scott Thompson all had no prior opportunity? Does no “reasonable attempt” over-ride prior opportunity? Is this interpretation simply in place to eliminate ball-ups? It would appear so. What about if you’re slung while in the process of trying to get boot on ball, because under the interpretation, if you don’t make contact with the footy in disposing of it, you’ve disposed of the ball illegally and will be penalised. Again, good luck umps.

And how about ‘Protect the Ball Player”:

I’m all for ensuring the game doesn’t add another Neil Sachse to its past player ranks but based on what we saw in the pre-season competition, the status quo of ducking your head with the ball and charging into a stationary opponent appears to be being maintained.

And then we have this gem; Forceful Contact Below the Knees.

Simply, don’t bust a nut to win the loose ball. It’s not worth it. Staying on your feet is an admirable notion, but as soon as you pick it up you’ll be tackled and likely knocked off for holding the ball. You could take a dive and be rewarded with a holding the ball free paid against you, but you run the risk of not making a reasonable attempt to move the ball on and we could have… another ball-up.

My head is spinning.

I haven’t decided yet that I really like the ‘modern game’. That’s not to say that the game used to be better in the old days, but there was a helluva lot less rule interpretations than there are today and fans didn’t seem to mind. We also seemed to have much higher-scoring games. But here’s the thing; the better teams are defensively, the closer they are to winning a premiership. Just ask Paul Roos, John Worsfold and possibly John Longmire. Being the team that can kick 24 goals a game is nice, but as Matthew Knights might attest to, it doesn’t always mean you win games.

I’d love to see the AFL let the game evolve organically instead of the rules committee justifying its existence as each season passes with more and more changes to interpretation.

Here’s the thing: The same people have been at the heart of the rules committee and the umpiring department for close to – if not more than – a decade. Is it not time we started asking if the right people are in the key roles in these offices instead of thinking its the rules that need changing?

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