AFL acts on sliding
THE AFL has closed a loophole that allowed at least one player to escape punishment for a dangerous slide.
As of this weekend umpires have been instructed to pay a free-kick against any player who slides and makes contact to an opponent anywhere below their knee. The rule is one step short of banning players from sliding, but strengthens and clarifies the circumstances under which that would be punished.
Its strategy, which began late last year, to dissuade players from sliding knees- or feet-first into contests has been undermined in recent weeks, with North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas and Fremantle's Greg Broughton both having rough-conduct suspensions quashed by the tribunal.
Gary Rohan, was badly injured in what was labelled a 'sliding' incident. Photo: Quentin Jones
While Thomas said his slide that broke the leg of Sydney's Gary Rohan was not deliberate, Broughton's was a deliberate tactic to collect a loose ball. The Docker was exonerated partly because the AFL's original warning referred to players sliding into contests, and he successfully argued that because he got the ball first he had in fact slid into space, rather than into a contest.
The AFL is also examining whether it has to strengthen its tribunal guidelines to reduce the prevalence of match review panel decisions relating to sliding being overruled by the tribunal.
AFL general manager of football operations Adrian Anderson explained the changes in a memorandum sent to all clubs.
First it was head-high contact, now sliding feet-first is under scrutiny from the AFL. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Read the full memorandum - click here.
"The AFL’s primary concern around the Laws of the Game continues to be the safety of our players," Mr Anderson said.
"It is not illegal to slide to contest the ball, but players must be aware of the potential for injury if they slide into an opponent’s knees or ankles.
"Our medical advice is that sliding into contests has the real potential to result in season-ending, or even career-ending, injuries, and that is something that no-one in the game wants to see."