Last Sunday, down at the Esperance Football Club, the Bulldogs players, supporters and general public were welcome to listen to Kevin Sheedy in action, answering questions and soaking up his vast football knowledge.
It was a terrific event and praise should be given to Michael Harding and the club for putting on a great day and a beautiful spread.
The most intriguing aspect of the day in my opinion were the few rule changes that the Essendon coaching great suggested the AFL adopt. Each rule aimed at trying to return to the traditional open stlye of play, with more kicking to marking contests and less scrimmages around the stoppages.
The rules are these...
1. At no time can 36 players be in one half of the ground
Often coaches instruct their entire team, including their forward line, to flood back into the defensive 50 m arc, to clog up the game and create consecutive stoppages. This is generally employed when teams are getting on top of the other, to try and stifle their forward run and arrest back some sort of momentum. It results in an ugly, rugby-like game with plenty of tackles and no clean footy. Ban it, says Kevin.
2. Four of your players should be in each the forward and defensive 50 at all goals, points and stoppages (including boundary throw ins)
This is to prevent issues that was mentioned in the above point. Forcing 8 players into each 50 effectively clears out space in the middle of the field. Leaving stoppages more open and forcing players to kick longer to their forwards rather than rely on a smaller link kick around the ground. Difficult to police? Kevin believes the three on-field umpires should be more than capable to enforce the rule.
3. Ban players being substituted from the ground when a goal is kicked
This phenomenon has been trending around the AFL for a while now. Basically a goal is scored and the goalscorer is immediately dragged by the coach! It may be for rotational reasons, or perhaps scoring a goal is the best time to replace a player so not to dent is confidence (I think that makes sense?), either way Sheeds wants to keep those players ON THE FIELD immediately after their six-pointer. It might be tongue and cheek but the coaching great thinks players should be able to celebrate their wins and their confidence should not be undermined.
What rule changes would you like to see or would you remove from the current game.
While I don't mind some tinkering, all-in-all I hate changes. I think the more basic the game the better, easier to understand, easier to umpire and easier to play. That way there's less confusion and players can instead focus on playing the bloody game!
At this rate with rule changes each year the players, coaches and supporters struggle to keep up. Just let the rules settle and give the players time to adjust!