AFL free-kick issues: Gillon McLachlan reveals players who stage, dive, duck or shrug to make head-high contact won’t be rewarded

The AFL has issued a warning to footy’s duckers and stagers after league boss Gillon McLachlan got tired of players taking advantage of rules designed to protect them.

The league doubled down on its high level of outreach on Tuesday with a memo to clubs and players in which AFL chief referees Dan Richardson reiterated that whistleblowers have been instructed not to reward players who try to milk free-kicks.

It came after questions rose over whether Collingwood young gun Jack Ginnivan was otherwise umpired after a series of controversial no calls in last Saturday’s win against Adelaide.

McLachlan said Tuesday night the rule had been clarified to stop exploiting coaches and also to protect players.

“I don’t like exploiting the rule…the rule is there to protect players’ minds and they’re actually putting themselves in danger,” McLachlan said on Fox Footy’s AFL360.

“The second part is just as bad as the first.”

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The outgoing AFL supremo said clubs and fans now have better “clarity” about what constitutes a high-contact free-kick and what does not.

“What I accept is that there’s a set of rules and the coaches are partially there and the players are trying to drive a truck through them and use them to their advantage,” McLachlan said.

“That actually happens in sport and that’s what they do and that’s exploited and people try to take advantage of that and you need to streamline and clarify and communicate with the players, the clubs and the fans.

“And that’s what happened here.”

In the memo sent to clubs, Richardson said players who tried to milk free-kicks would not get away with it.

“We want to make it clear that if the referee believes the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact, then they will not be rewarded,” Richardson said.

“First and foremost, players trying to capture the ball need to be protected and the duty of care is on the attacker.

“However, after winning the ball, the ball carrier has a duty of care not to position himself for high contact.

“Ultimately, the rules do not reward players for putting themselves in vulnerable positions to take a free kick at any level of our game.

“Our judges strive to get every decision right every time, but there are instances where decisions, just like players, are made at full speed on the ground without the benefit of slow-motion playback.

“Player health and safety is the primary concern of both the AFL and clubs and we will continue to work with clubs, their coaching bodies as well as players to ensure the safety of the game.”

As part of its message, the league also released a video explanation of three tackles over the past fortnight involving Ginnivan and Melbourne Premiership forward Kysaiah Pickett.

The league said the Ginnivan tackle was correctly labeled play on as “he lowered his body and raised his arm”.

A free kick was awarded for high contact on the pickett tackle, but the league said that shouldn’t have been as the Demon raised his arm to milk the free one.

The AFL said the instructions to their umpires are as follows:

• If the tackle is used appropriately, there is no prior opportunity and the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact by shrugging, dropping or arm raising – play on should be called.

• If the tackle is used judiciously and there is a prior opportunity and the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact by shrugging, dropping or arm raising, the save should be called.

• If a player is head over the ball trying to gain possession and the contact is high, a high contact free kick is awarded.”

Originally published as AFL News: League warns clubs and players to stop taking head-high free kicks

https://www.codesports.com.au/sport/afl-news-league-warns-clubs-players-to-stop-drawing-headhigh-free-kicks/news-story/fb736a958eec666eac1601f9d92fbc50?nk=0fbef20e81ca5ff310aba36d1dbf93a7-1658230988 AFL free-kick issues: Gillon McLachlan reveals players who stage, dive, duck or shrug to make head-high contact won’t be rewarded

Nate Jones

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