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'Dialling it down': AFL considering change to 'ridiculous' new rule

Chris Young
·4-min read
After the AFL's new man the mark 'stand' rule generated significant outcry over the weekend, the league's head of football Steve Hocking has come out in defence of the change. Pictures: 7AFL/Getty Images
After the AFL's new man the mark 'stand' rule generated significant outcry over the weekend, the league's head of football Steve Hocking has come out in defence of the change. Pictures: 7AFL/Getty Images

The AFL will reportedly wait until the pre-season competition is finished before deciding whether or not to alter the interpretation of strict and controversial new man on the mark rules.

The newly implemented rule, which prevents a player manning the mark from moving more than a metre from side-to-side, generated significant controversy over the weekend when Fremantle defender Brenna Cox gave up a 50m penalty after turning around while his opponent lined up a shot on goal.

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Almost immediately after Brennan moved, the umpire blew his whistle and gave West Coast opponent Oscar Allen a shot on goal from directly in front.

The rule change was brought into to give the attacking team a bigger advantage for taking a mark, making it more difficult for opposing defences to flood the backline.

However the incredibly harsh 50m penalty for moving on the mark hasn't gone down well with fans, with the footage of Brennan's penalty attracting significant criticism of the rule, as well as a similar incident in an Essendon intra-club match also attracting scrutiny.

While the scrutiny of the rule, particularly after the Brennan decsion, has been fierce, the AFL is, for now, standing by the interpretation of the rule - though AFL head of football Steve Hocking left the door open for umpires to interpret the rule slightly differently after the upcoming pre-season games have been completed.

In defending the new rule, Hocking said just six 50m penalties had been given for more than 2000 paid marks, proof players had adjusted well to the new rule.

“We’re very, very happy with where it’s at when you consider the amount of times the ball was stopped during play at the weekend,’’ he told the Herald Sun.

“It was our first real opportunity to have a look at it and we will continue to look at it, as we did with 6-6-6, and if there needs to be a subtle adjustment to it, that’s what we will do over the coming weeks."

New man the mark 'stand' rule generates AFL controversy

The free kick for Allen juiced up the debate about the rule, with several prominent AFL voices discussing the issue on social media over the weekend.

The harsh penalty prompted the likes of West Coast star Nic Naitanui to speak up about the new rule.

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Collingwood legend Mick McGuane tweeted: “Oh my God. Little commonsense applied here. Penalty far too severe for such a minor indiscretion.”

Radio host Mark Allen wrote: “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 added: “Not a ridiculous rule at all.”

Carlton player Sam Kerridge labelled it “horrible" and hard to watch”, while Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes wrote: “The scary part — this is the correct decision under the new rule.”

AFL head of football Steve Hocking has defended the league's new 'stand' rule, introduced for the 2021 season. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
AFL head of football Steve Hocking has defended the league's new 'stand' rule, introduced for the 2021 season. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Sydney Swans great Jude Bolton said the video was “really poor”.

“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 told 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.”

Additional reporting from Sam Goodwin

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