Footy pundits and fans have been given their first look at the controversial new ‘stand’ rule in action at AFL level – and they’ve raised some early concerns.
On Tuesday afternoon, a video surfaced on social media from Essendon’s match simulation held on the weekend, in which the rule was correctly applied by the umpire.
The rule sees umpires telling players manning the mark to “stand”, after which they cannot move from their position or be replaced by a teammate, with a 50-metre penalty given for infringements. When the rule was originally announced a one-metre “level of tolerance” was to be applied.
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The video sees Darcy Parish catch Kyle Langford holding the ball immediately after a centre bounce, being awarded a free kick.
Parish walks back, then steps a metre or two out to the right as he kicks down-field – seemingly playing on – while Langford follows him by moving laterally to his left.
But as soon as he moves, Langford is called for an infringement and a 50-metre penalty is awarded to Parish.
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Umpires have been officiating intra-club games in recent weeks, which have allowed them to implement the new rule and give players and coaches a sense of how it’ll be adjudicated well before Round 1.
But Port Adelaide great Warren Tredrea wrote on Twitter: “What a joke.”
“Yuk. As if the umpires haven’t got enough on their plate,” Collingwood premiership player and analyst Mick McGuane added.
“Watching if attacking player plays on, seeing if defenders get into protected area and watching if defender moves rather than STAND on the mark. #cantseeitall #whatdecisioncomesfirst”.
However others weren’t quite as outraged.
“I don’t really get the horror some have with this,” Geelong Advertiser writer Josh Barnes said.
“The man on the mark clearly breaks the rule. We all knew it would take a couple weeks for players to completely get it but this isn’t a controversial incident.”
On Monday evening Essendon great Matthew Lloyd suggested players were “really struggling” to come to terms with the rule as umpires toured the country implementing it at training sessions.
The rule is another effort from AFL footy operations boss Steve Hocking to increase scoring, which in 2019 fell to a 52-year low.