In Short, deliberate out-of-bounds rule needs another look
WATCHING a replay of the 1998 Grand Final between North Melbourne and Adelaide on Saturday morning, I was reminded of how far we've come with the deliberate out of bounds rule.
And watching the Richmond versus Bulldogs clash later that night, I realised how far we've got to go with it.
Rewind almost 19 years and there was the great Wayne Carey blatantly handballing across the line like he was trying to hit a pass to one of the security guys.
There was only minor pressure from Crows defenders.
And most certainly no whistle from the umpire, or even calls of 'deliberate!' from outraged Adelaide fans.
How times have changed, and in cases like Carey's 'handball to safety', for the better.
But, the rule makers have perhaps gone too far, to the point fans, players, coaches and perhaps even the umpires have been left scratching their heads with some decisions.
We're almost at a point where we've gone down the path of basketball or soccer and any last touch is ruled a free kick against.
Take for instance young Tiger Hayden Short being penalised as his team made a last-ditch bid to sneak a win over the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, deep in their forward pocket, trailing by five points, with 25 seconds to play.
Surrounded by three Dogs opponents Short attempted to take possession - and, you would think, hope to get a handball out to a teammate in order to have a crack at a goal - only to fumble and send the ball flinging to the boundary line.
The AFL had earlier in the week re-defined the deliberate rule as "insufficient intent" to keep the ball in play.
By and large the continued crackdown has had a positive impact on the game with players now intent on avoiding the boundary.
The Short decision, however, showed the line between the very blatant and those deserving the benefit of the doubt was almost gone.
"You just can't call that," retired great Brent Harvey said of the Short ruling as he called for the Laws of the Game committee to re-look at the rule.
"When there is players around you and you fumble the ball, the umpires never pay it. For some reason though (that was paid).
"I'm feeling for the umpires at the minute because their job is too hard. There's so many rules - and the deliberate is getting worse and worse.
"So we, as the AFL, need to go back and have a quick look at it."
Though bewildered himself, Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge saw the funny side, asking if the crowd was yelling 'Insufficient intent! Insufficient intent!'.
"Ultimately, if you're kicking it out of a pressured situation and there's smothering hands, the ball needs to go a certain way for you to clear the area. Now, is that insufficient intent?
"There were definitely ones that weren't paid (on Saturday) that were paid last week, so the insufficient intent, is it clearer or less clear? I don't know.
"I feel like, is this Morecambe and Wise or Fawlty Towers?"