You can expect to see more fines and bans coming out of the AFL, as the league has announced that umpires will no longer tell the players how the umps intend to get out of the way following centre bounces and ball-ups.
The idea behind the proclamation is to decrease the amount of time now devoted to restarting play, but on the surface, to us at least, it would seem that the league’s interest is more geared toward sending more work to the MRP and gain some revenue in the form of retaining the $10,000 deposit extortion clubs must now pony up in order to lodge an appeal.
Players, coaches, fans and just about anyone else are simply looking for signs of consistency, yet, here we are into Round 9 of the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition and everyone is expected to guess which way the ump will go.
If we were AFL players, given the recent one-game ban Tom Hawkins received for his brush with an umpire, we would stand no closer than 20 metres from an umpire at any time and during bounces, we would stand with hands on hips until the Sherrin hit the ground, at which point we would run just as fast as our feet would fly in the opposite direction.
If we were Nic Nat, we would hop codes.
Well, at least the league has clarified for us that the reason it takes bloody forever to play a game of footy is the fault of the umpires.
The league’s memo to the clubs said, in part, “From round nine onwards, the field umpires will no longer tell players, ‘I am backing out this way’. Instead, they will identify the designated rucks and then throw the ball up. The umpire will back out in a straight direction after throwing the ball up. It is expected that all players will be aware of the direction that the field umpire will back out and not make any contact (or push opponents) into the umpire’s path.”
The labyrinthine regulations have now gotten even more labyrinthine-er and the crowd that has been calling for the bounce to become extinct will have fresh fuel for their argument.