Two Fox Footy pundits have been baffled by examples of high penalty kicking by the AFL since the league moved to rule out how head-high tackles were ordered this season.
The AFL on Tuesday reiterated its umpiring guidelines to all clubs not to award players who duck, fall or make high contact by shouldering.
The league’s memo comes amid widespread speculation that Collingwood forward Jack Ginnivan was performing differently than other players during high contact from opponents.
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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan stressed the rule remains the same, but renewed focus has been taken by the league. He said he doesn’t like players who start over-the-top relationships and “exploit the law.”
But Premiership eagle Will Schofield said the players were “not statues”, adding that the referee’s job had just been made more difficult.
“I’m not happy that the players are not statues when they catch the football and the people trying to tackle them are not statues,” Schofield told Fox Sports News. AFL tonight.
“These are moving things, many decisions are being made at the same time and now we are asking the judges to give us more interpretation on the law? I don’t think you can expect the players to not try and miss the planting. I don’t know if you can judge in the heat of the moment what the player is trying to do.
Three examples from Round 18 fixtures and explanations of how they should be interpreted are attached to the league memo.
The first featured an incident between Des star Kisiah Pickett and Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas during Sunday’s game in Alice Springs, where Pickett was awarded a free kick for high contact from Jonas. At the time a free kick was awarded to Pickett – the referee’s view was distorted – a different direction would have shown that it was demonstrative for high contact so it should have been called for ‘play on’.
A second example from Saturday’s Adelaide-Collingwood game involved Ginnivan, a tackle from the Crows’ Will Hamill was “reasonably applied”, but the forward kept his knees down and his head up to make high contact. ‘Play on’ was called by the referee at the time, which was the correct decision according to the AFL.
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The third event was Hawthorn’s James Blank and Adelaide’s Darcy Fogarty. Black received a hand pass from the back pocket and was then lofted by Fogarty. The AFL said Blanc had an early opportunity because he tried to escape the tackle and should therefore be penalized for holding the ball.
The latter confused Schofield.
“Yes, some of these examples show players who look like they’re trying to draw high tackles, but maybe it’s just on the keeper to make a better tackle,” he said.
“Some of these plays, especially this one (from Fogarty), it’s a lazy tackle, it’s a high tackle, that’s a free kick – and the AFL says it’s not a free kick.
“I’m more confused than I was at the beginning of the day.”
AFL 360 Co-host Gerard Wyllie said the AFL’s decision on the Jonas and Fogarty tackles was confusing.
“I’m confused by the whole thing,” Whaley told Fox Football AFL 360. “I’m confused by the comments around it and the aspects of the debate. (Tuesday’s explanation) would be helpful because I can’t tell if we are changing the penalty kicks that are awarded or the penalties that are not awarded.
“Guinevan’s one, that’s textbook. That would be a legitimate solution and the player would raise it, so I’m on board.
“(Pickett) is one ‘unpublishable’. The referee’s view was clearly high contact, but the replay shows that the match should not have been called.
“This one (Fogarty’s tackle), I’m surprised it was included (for example). I don’t think James Blank did anything there. He gets hit in the face and sees it coming… If you come in and get hit in the face, we have to be paid as high contact, not catching the ball.
AFL 360 Co-organizer Mark Robinson said instead of awarding a high penalty kick, a penalty should be awarded to someone who lowers his body and puts himself in a situation where the opposition takes the upper hand. He said it helps protect players from head injuries and injuries.
Browlow Medalist Litchie Neale spoke to Robinson’s comments. AFL 360: “Such a gray area is law. One of the best parts of our game is guys coming in and putting their head on the pedestal, you definitely don’t want to take away that aspect of the game.
“But if you go back with your head and put yourself in danger and make it difficult for the referee and the opponent, I think that should be a penalty on you.”
An AFL memo recalled on Tuesday that Essendon star Zach Merrett said it was clear that any player who lowered his body while attempting a free kick would not be rewarded.
I remember at 16 or 17 Lindsay Thomas was doing really well and at that time it was in the rules to be a free kick… It caused a lot of anger in AFL circles and I think the AFL and the umpires came down. Pretty fast and hard on it,” Merrett said AFL 360.
“I felt the last few years when I finished playing, I was under the impression that I had the ball. You give yourself a chance by lowering your knee and raising your elbow to get a free kick.
But asked if he’s been confused in recent months after the focus on the odds, Merrett said: “A little bit. This year, more penalties were paid for the act than in previous years. I don’t think we want to encourage players to play for that penalty.
Nelle said that players who successfully avoid and avoid problems, rather than “duck and reduce their energy”.
“I feel like when you watch and play the game, you want the players to try and escape rather than go to them,” he said. “I think that gives some good highlights… you can get some unique gameplay bits.
But with respect to the players who can do it and win free kicks for your team – especially in front of goal – I can understand why you should use them better. Hopefully we’ll see it tighten up a bit.