JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Umpires key to speeding up game

'The whole issue has become a mess of conflicting theories and agendas.'

'The whole issue has become a mess of conflicting theories and agendas.' Photo: Joe Armao

KEVIN Bartlett's suggestion last week that the interchange system give way to an eight-man bench, with no player taken from the field able to be replaced, has inspired some strong reaction, almost all of it negative.

You can understand why.

The AFL Legend and Laws of the Game Committee member is popularly seen as part of the problem, symbolic of the league's incessant need to tinker, tamper and tweak so frequently the old catchcry "leave the rules alone" is a constant refrain.

Now the coaches, many of whom have remained dubious about the supposed benefits of the substitute rule, are lobbying the AFL for more change.

Indeed, the whole issue has become a mess of conflicting theories and agendas.

What was the sub rule supposed to be about again?

If it was the reduction of injuries, the most recent AFL data suggests it may have been successful.

But if it's now, as the latest debate indicates, about preventing congestion, who can categorically conclude spiralling interchange numbers are a major factor? Not sure I see a definite link. What I do see increasingly though, are moveable scrums that sometimes seem to go on forever; all that's missing from virtual rugby is a front row, lineout, and some cauliflower ears.

Do we really need another twist on another recent rule change to clear them up? Which might lead to yet another unintended consequence and another rule change to counter it?

Here's a not-so-radical idea. How about umpires stop giving players days to clear the area, blow the whistle, move in and ball it up?

Watch any game from a couple of decades ago and one of the first things you'll notice is how quickly the umpires call a stop to play when it's locked up, then how quickly they bounce down, get out of the way, and let the players get on with it.

The AFL claims that's no potential solution, that ball-ups just lead to secondary ball-ups and even more congestion. But that depends on how quickly umpires act.

They don't have to first let a dozen players accumulate around a pair fighting a contest. They also don't have to stop, prop, prepare an exit path and warn all and sundry of it to avoid the odd incidental brush from a player.

Of which, of course, there would be a lot less if there wasn't an interminable delay between a ball being held in and the blow of the whistle.

Bartlett's proposal took interchange numbers to a modern-day extreme but with an old philosophy of "once off, stay off". Clearing the congestion we routinely see now might be a case of reverting to old values as well. But with a lot less fuss, and without upsetting as many people.


  • It's a fair idea, Rohan. I suspect the players are exploiting this slowness of the umpires to ballup at congestions, so they can just catch a quick breather. Which of course, then gives them that little bit extra to run a bit further and create bit more congestion.

    We have to do something though, as footy as a spectacle, isn't.

    What makes our game great is not packs around the ball and crowded forward lines.

    Can any footy lover honestly sit there and say they love to see that congested play?

    I'm all for taking desperate measures and limiting the numbers of players allowed inside the 50m arcs. Dare I say, something like netball does.

    Will we remember this era of rugby-style footy as "Demetriou footy"? The buck stops with him. He has the power to say "enough". Surely he doesn't enjoy the current rugby footy?

    And interesting that there's two articles today with different solutions, but the same idea: the umpires are the ones who can get things moving again.

    We gotta do something, too much a footy game is not worth watching.

    Date and time
    June 11, 2012, 1:30AM
    • wholeheartedly agree Rohan. I didn't have tv in the 60's and 70's and watched in awe a couple of years ago a Geelong StKilda semi from late 60's, as Jeff Crouch umpired the game. ONE umpire and he was constantly in quickly to bounce the ball. and yes, in my belief the game was just as fast as it is now because of the constant flow. One of the callers on K-Rock friday night during the last quarter called it right when he said "the umpires are just too lazy to get in and bounce the ball quickly!" sack Jeff Geischen I reckon!!

      Date and time
      June 11, 2012, 2:36AM
      • The biggest problems now is that players are scared to pick up the ball because if they get tackled they get pinged for holding the ball. The result is the ball sliding along the ground as players hover around it, tapping it forward and refusing to pick it up.

        The Carl/Geel game had about five example of someone grabbing the ball and being tackled straigh away with no prior opportunity to get rid of it. These players didn't even dive on the ball and they still got done. Sack AD and bring PRIOR OPPORTUNITY as they only factor in dropping/holding the ball decisions.

        Date and time
        June 11, 2012, 7:49AM
        • Rohan your point about umpires f old moving quickly to restart play is well made. The other thing I have noticed abt them in old videos is that they often had a smile on the face! And I bet iof they had been wearing microphones we would find out that they weren't barking instructions at players all the time. Umpires should shut up and pay a free kick. is there anything sillier than hearing "don't hold, don't hold ... play on" at a boundary throw in when everyone can see that the ruckmen are holding.

          Date and time
          June 11, 2012, 8:52AM
          • Spot on Rohan--but don't ball it up--throw it up---they take too long to bounce the ball. This allows more players to position around the contest.

            mount martha
            Date and time
            June 11, 2012, 8:59AM
            • I agree completely most of these mauls develop as a result taking far too long to call for a ball up, allowing more and more players to gather in the area of the contest attempting to out number the oppostion at the eventual ball up. Get the ball in play and moving before there are 30 players all standing within 30 metres of the ball up.

              Date and time
              June 11, 2012, 9:05AM
              • kevin has had his day on the rules committee so have a couple of others. Every supporter wants the rules left alone every player more than likely wants the rules left alone it appears that the only ones who want to fiddle around with the game are the same old senile fuddy wuddies who once a long time ago played the game. Are they really just trying to regain some attention or do they actually think that they are going to improve the spectacle of the game, me thinks not.

                Date and time
                June 11, 2012, 10:01AM
                • if you notice the difference btw the time the umpires allow to lapse in these scrums before blowing the whistle and balling the ball up again in the first three quarters in comparison to in the last - there is your answer. the scrums are never allowed to just roll on for long in the last quarter as it is considered time wasting or killing time... so if they can cut these scrums short in the last quarter then they could in the first 3 quarters too...with the exact same intention to stop wasting time and get the ball free and moving again... how many times do you hear at the footy "blow your whistle and ball it up, we are not playing rugby here"

                  Date and time
                  June 11, 2012, 10:05AM
                  • Only a few years ago ,field umpires called to the players in a pack to "hit it out" The rule comes back to --is the player able to get rid of the ball ,or is being pinned to the ground.Moveable scrums is poor umpiring advice.

                    Three four players on top of the player holding the ball,continues that problem. If the player has no capacity to get rid of the ball, surely it is "in the back"

                    It would not take long for players to get the picture.

                    If the player does not have to ability to get rid of ball, he is either caught holding or awarded in the back.

                    Surely it is time for new faces around the umpiring table.

                    Trevor A
                    Date and time
                    June 11, 2012, 10:48AM
                    • For a great example of this problem watch the Richmond vs Freo game, umps consistently let congestion and inevitable ball up situations go far too long. 10-12 times during thre game the whistle could have been blown 20 seconds earlier.

                      Was like watching rugby KB.

                      Date and time
                      June 11, 2012, 11:03AM

                      More comments

                      Comments are now closed

                      Related Coverage

                      HuffPost Australia

                      AFL 2016

                      Round 1
                      Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
                      RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
                      Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
                      MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
                      GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
                      NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
                      SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
                      Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
                      WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
                      PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
                      WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
                      GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 2
                      Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
                      COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
                      ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
                      ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
                      BRI vs NTH 16:35G
                      STK vs WBU 19:25ES
                      FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
                      GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
                      HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
                      CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 3
                      Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
                      PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
                      Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
                      STK vs COL 13:45MCG
                      RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
                      SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
                      GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
                      WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
                      NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
                      WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
                      GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 4
                      Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
                      WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
                      Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
                      ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
                      HAW vs STK 14:10AS
                      BRI vs GCF 16:35G
                      CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
                      ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
                      GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
                      COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
                      NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 5
                      Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
                      HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
                      GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
                      WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
                      PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
                      STK vs GWS 13:10ES
                      FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
                      MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
                      Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 6
                      Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
                      NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
                      Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
                      MEL vs STK 13:45ES
                      ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
                      GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
                      RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
                      GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
                      Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
                      BRI vs SYD 13:10G
                      CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
                      WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 7
                      Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
                      RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
                      GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
                      SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
                      GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
                      WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
                      FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
                      STK vs NTH 15:20ES
                      PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 8
                      Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
                      ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
                      Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
                      ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
                      HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
                      GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
                      BRI vs COL 19:25G
                      RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
                      Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
                      MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
                      WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 9
                      Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
                      HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
                      GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
                      PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
                      NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
                      FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
                      MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
                      GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
                      STK vs ESS 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 10
                      Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
                      Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
                      BRI vs HAW 13:45G
                      MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
                      STK vs FRE 16:35ES
                      ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
                      ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
                      COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
                      WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 11
                      Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
                      NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
                      Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
                      HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
                      CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
                      GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
                      GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
                      FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
                      WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
                      ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 12
                      Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
                      ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
                      Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
                      PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
                      BRI vs FRE 16:35G
                      GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
                      WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
                      Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
                      STK vs CAR 13:10ES
                      RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
                      GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
                      Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
                      MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 13
                      Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
                      NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
                      Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
                      BRI vs WCE 13:40G
                      FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
                      WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
                      Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
                      ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 14
                      Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
                      ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
                      Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
                      RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
                      GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
                      STK vs GEE 19:25ES
                      Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
                      HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 15
                      Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
                      WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
                      Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
                      PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
                      Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
                      GCF vs STK 13:40MS
                      SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
                      CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
                      Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
                      MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 16
                      Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
                      PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
                      Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
                      GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
                      Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
                      GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
                      GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
                      WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
                      MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
                      Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
                      WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
                      ESS vs STK 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 17
                      Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
                      Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
                      FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
                      Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
                      RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
                      NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
                      WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
                      ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
                      STK vs MEL 15:20ES
                      BRI vs GWS 16:40G
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 18
                      Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
                      COL vs NTH 19:50ES
                      Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
                      GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
                      WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
                      WBU vs STK 19:25ES
                      GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
                      Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
                      ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
                      HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
                      PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 19
                      Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
                      GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
                      Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
                      GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
                      HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
                      COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
                      BRI vs PTA 19:25G
                      NTH vs STK 19:25ES
                      Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
                      MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
                      FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
                      ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 20
                      Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
                      RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
                      Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
                      SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
                      MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
                      GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
                      WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
                      ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
                      GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
                      FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 21
                      Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
                      WBU vs COL 19:50ES
                      Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
                      BRI vs CAR 13:45G
                      HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
                      GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
                      STK vs SYD 19:25ES
                      PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
                      ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
                      RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
                      FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 22
                      Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
                      WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
                      Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
                      NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
                      RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
                      GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
                      COL vs GCF 19:25ES
                      PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
                      Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
                      CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
                      BRI vs GEE 15:20G
                      ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
                      View All Fixtures
                      Round 23
                      Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
                      HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
                      STK vs BRI 12:00ES
                      ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
                      GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
                      SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
                      NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
                      GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
                      ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
                      FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
                      View All Fixtures
                      AFL 2015
                      Overall standings
                      Team P W L D % Pts
                      Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
                      View all

                      Follow Us on Facebook

                      Featured advertisers