The AFL’s newly-introduced “stand” rule seems destined to ruffle some feathers this year after footage of an innocuous incident during Saturday’s scratch match between the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles went viral.
In an effort to encourage more scoring, defending players will effectively be prohibited from moving side-to-side more than a metre while on the mark this season.
If umpires believe the player on the mark has shifted too far, the opposition will be awarded a 50-metre penalty.
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The player manning the mark is also not allowed to be replaced by a teammate, subsequently limiting the defending team’s ability to get numbers back in defence.
Footage of the new rule in action went viral on Wednesday, and Saturday’s game at Lathlain Park provided fans with another glimpse.
In the fresh footage, West Coast young gun Oscar Allen is preparing to take a free kick from 35 metres out at a 45-degree angle, with Fremantle backman Brennan Cox manning the mark.
Cox briefly spun around and took a step towards the posts, at which point the umpire immediately awarded a 50-metre penalty.
The video circulated around social media on Sunday, with Eagles teammate Nic Naitanui sharing his confusion on Twitter.
Radio host Mark Allen tweeted: “This can’t be right. AFL — please fix. Tell us this isn’t how the rule is supposed to be used this season. #MindNumbing.”
Sports writer Titus O’Reily sarcastically posted: “Not a ridiculous rule at all.”
Collingwood legend Mick McGuane tweeted: “Oh my God. Little commonsense applied here. Penalty far too severe for such a minor indiscretion.”
Former Port Adelaide star Kane Corned posted: “The scary part — this is the correct decision under the new rule.”
Cox called the incident “stiff” on Instagram, while Carlton player Sam Kerridge labelled it as “horrible, hard to watch”.
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Sydney Swans great Jude Bolton described the clip as “really poor”, conceding he needed to see more example of the new rule in action.
“From my perspective, it’s such a small sample size at the moment, it’s hard to make a real judgment on how it’s going to impact the season moving forward,” Bolton said on Sunday, as reported by The Age.
“However of that sample size, it’s been really poor from my perspective.
“I feel like we’re just making it one of the hardest games to adjudicate, which puts undue pressure on the umpires, which creates unnecessary angst in the crowd.”
However, some footy pundits acknowledged how the rule change would encourage attacking play and increased scoring.
Former St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said on commentary: “I think you’ll find that (increased scoring) across the competition because of the way you’ll have to man the mark.
“Teams will strategise based on their own personnel around that play, it does give opportunity. You are able to move the ball quicker.
“Ironically we thought we moved the ball too quickly and needed to compose ourself more. I think that’ll be a trend given he has to have concrete boots on and teams will exploit that.
“I’d be surprised if it didn’t, it allows you to find the corridor and roll.”