AFL Rules have been making things worse, not better

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gbatman

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Just a thought on what the AFL are trying to achieve with their rule changes and why I think they are going to drive things backwards.

For a start, as long as footy has existed the formula to a good quality contest has always been about having the balance between Pressure Applied V Skill Level. You watch old black and white games and their pressure was next to 0, the skills were ordinary but the contest and quality of the footy was terrific. In the 90s the players became professional and greater athletes and their pressure applied was significantly higher but so was the skill level and things were balanced but at the moment things are a little in favour of the pressure side of things and while people love to blame coaches and tactics, which do play a part, I believe it's the AFL's very measures to rectify this that is causing the problems.

For a start lets look at bench rotations. The AFL has an idea that if they make the players tired that it will open the game up and they will stick to their positions more. IMO this could not be further from the truth. To get around this teams will train their players to be runners, select runners and play a lot more tempo and slow moving footy. To think you can stop teams running from one end to the other is ridiculous, whatever you do AFL sides will keep doing this and keep defending in zones. That tactic is here to stay and IMO the only way to make things better is to embrace it and focus on what makes teams able to cope with the pressure and congestion.

So going back to what I said earlier on how good quality football is about having the balance between skill and pressure, I think rather than try to use the rules to remove the pressure the AFL should be looking at ways to increase the skill and having players who can cope with the pressure. The pressure IMO is here to stay, fast athletes, numbers around the ball, zone defending will always be a thing and that is fine.

The problem here is that rule changes that limit bench rotations are putting teams under more pressure to play athletes. If you can't run a marathon you don't play. The more the AFL try and make the players 'tired', the more athletes we will see in teams and those skilled footballer who can't run those big numbers, they don't get picked.

The other thing we are seeing is longer development timeframes for young players. A teenager to be AFL ready needs to add size and strengthen and build their engine up to be able to run a small marathon at pace. It takes years for a young player to get there and this has really hurt rebuilding sides as their top new players are mostly 4 years away from being able to compete at the level unless they are a freak. Gone are the days where a young guy could have a few good preseasons in the gym and play on and off the bench developing in the seniors and having an impact. Now we are seeing top draft picks having to spend years in the reserves because it's just too much to develop that level of running and develop their bodies.

You're also seeing a lot of poorly skilled blokes running around and this is my biggest gripe with interchange restrictions. A good example is Matthew Cottrell of Carlton, nothing against him, he's a terrific young player but he's an athlete first at this stage in his career. He's an endurance beast, leads time trials but his skills are ordinary yet he got a game ahead of a lot of other far better skilled players on Carltons list last season and it was mostly due to his ability to run hard up and down the ground. He's one of countless examples here where teams are picking runners over more skilled types.

Now if the AFL think they have a problem with the pressure of the game, how is changing the rules to promote athletes ahead of skilled pure footballers going to help? Think of all the slow and not overly enduring midfield guns over the years not getting a game because their running was not up to scratch. Congestion gets worse when skills get works. Pressure tests a players skills and it takes a fumble or a missed kick or missed handball and we have another ball up or another turnover. Nothing limits scoring and creates ugly football like poor skills do.

The AFL call it congestion but really it's just extra pressure. Throw as much congestion at Richmond or Geelong and they still end up playing open free flowing good quality football. The reason is because they have the skill, strength and height up forward to do it.

If you want to beat congestion and overcome the extra pressure the rules need to support teams to play the players who can do it. So how do you beat it? You need genuine footballers with really good skills around the contest, you need a lot of physical strength around the contest and you need tall forwards. All these things are being discouraged by the AFL's interchange rules.

Players are thinner and lighter now so they can cope with the running but it makes them easier to tackle. Big strong blokes who can break tackles and get handballs away will take the issues with congestion out of the game. We're seeing Carlton admit that making Cripps lighter last season was a mistake. They made him lighter and it took away his ability to break tackles and get his hands free. Encouraging bigger stronger bodies around the contests is a must if congestion is to be handled. The harder players are to tackle the easier they can get the ball away.

Tall forwards are hard to fit into a team that can't rotate the bench. Where do you put your big strong marking CHF, FF and second ruckman? Fast ball movement is the key to getting around congestion and defensive tactics and one of the best ways to do that is to kick long to a really good tall marking player and get it to the back of the zone, but if teams can't fit them in then they can't do it. There is no doubt the extra running requirements make it hard for teams to play all these big talls. The way around it is open rotations and having 5 on the bench. IMO teams would go with a defender a forward, two who can play midfield and a reserve ruck if there were 5 on the bench. The resting ruck makes it easy to play a permanent full forward and center half forward and that makes for a much better game where fast ball movement and zone breaking long kicks come into play.

Teams want forward pressure so they don't want to be too tall up forward and in general but give teams another bench spot they will fit that extra tall in and will be more likely to go with permanent talls up forward. This will increase scoring and quicken up play and keep things more open.

The other thing I am not convinced with yet is being able to play on out of the goal square. Yeah it enables teams to get the ball further away but teams expect it. It spreads the defence quicker but this is not always a good thing. What it's doing is moving the back of the zone further away. With the old structure the zone was pressed further up. Sure it made things tighter but it made it easier for teams to get it to the back of the zone and then go over the top into space going forward. Richmond of 2017 were elite at this. I think it encourages teams to defend their backline a lot harder and flood the oppositions forward line rather than defend their forward line harder but leave it open out the back should the opposition get the ball to the back of the zone quick enough.

I think the AFL need to rethink their stance on how they plan to open the game up. I think they need to discourage this requirement for running they have created and make the game more favourable to players who are bigger stronger and skilled who may not be super athletes and make it easier for teams to go taller up forward.

There is no doubt that the two new sides have had an impact on the quality of the competition and that needs to be noted when considering having any more teams come in. The pressure has stayed the same but you bring in two new teams and that dilutes the quality of skills over the whole competition.

I'm not sure what other people think of this but it's just a thought. Not a great deal has changed over the last 10 or so years in how teams defend but the rules have changed and that has changed the game and not in good ways IMO. The AFL has meant well but they haven't got it right. I think they are worried about speeding the game up as well in regards to players getting hurt/concussed and perhaps this is the real reason they are slowing the game down.

IMO if you had 5 on the bench and no restrictions I think you would have a game where teams played stronger and more skilled players and they would mean they coped with congestion a lot better and they would play taller up forward. You would also see more young skilled players developing in the AFL rather than in the reserves. I think you would see a quicker game where teams spent more time attacking and less time playing tempo and that would lift the scores up. Teams would still zone and get numbers around the ball but it would be less effective with more skilled and stronger players.

Thoughts?
 

HawkMongrel

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Don’t worry, the AFL and their corrupted media buddies are already pushing out the positive articles about the rules changes to tell us all how good it’ll be.

Until we all see it in action and another season passes with even more people losing interest in the sport.

 

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HawkMongrel

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You will all keep supporting it and funding it, they could change to a round ball and you will keep supporting it.
No modern day supporters care about the sport.
I haven’t set foot in a stadium since Round 2 2019.

Have no plans to either despite the current COVID period.

Just totally exasperated with the game and what it’s become.
 

greatwhiteshark

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I haven’t set foot in a stadium since Round 2 2019.

Have no plans to either despite the current COVID period.

Just totally exasperated with the game and what it’s become.
Last straw for me was the rule saying you can run out of the goal square to kick the ball back into play. Change fir change sake and it of course achieved nothing just as 99% of rule changes have achieved nothing the last 20 years.
No longer a member, never go to AFL games. Yes I watch some on tv but my money now goes to West Perth and my local amateur club. I am no longer going to fund this new hybrid sport called AFL.
 

Diverbelow

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Will we see teams not defend the mark at all in some circumstances. Umpire says 'Here is the mark" and defender just runs away into the forward line to congest up the forward line and provide a 2 v 1 . The defending side can still have players 5 metres away from the mark so the attacking player who took the mark only has a limited space to move forward without a defender pressuring them.
 

Thetrader15

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Will we see teams not defend the mark at all in some circumstances. Umpire says 'Here is the mark" and defender just runs away into the forward line to congest up the forward line and provide a 2 v 1 . The defending side can still have players 5 metres away from the mark so the attacking player who took the mark only has a limited space to move forward without a defender pressuring them.
It'll be very interesting what the AFL do about that.

The easy option is to just have a player at 45 degrees 5m behind the mark (Geelong do this very well) and you serve the same purpose in cutting off that kick.

Ultimately what the AFL appear to want is for all players to run away from the player with the ball at all times, meaning no tackling, no head clashes and the ball is never in dispute and there will be 35 goals to 33.
 

juss

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I agree with the thread title premise, but as greatwhiteshark points out, the only action fans could take that would influence change back the other way is the action fans will never take, and that's to completely stop watching/attending games.

They could make any rule change they like though and fans will still watch/attend and as long as that happens, fans give all the power back to the AFL to do what they like with the game.

If every single fan boycotted round 1, didn't watch and didn't attend, then you'd see the AFL actually listen.
 

greatwhiteshark

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I agree with the thread title premise, but as greatwhiteshark points out, the only action fans could take that would influence change back the other way is the action fans will never take, and that's to completely stop watching/attending games.

They could make any rule change they like though and fans will still watch/attend and as long as that happens, fans give all the power back to the AFL to do what they like with the game.

If every single fan boycotted round 1, didn't watch and didn't attend, then you'd see the AFL actually listen.
Unfortunately as the fans don't care about the sport itself it won't happen. No one has looked out for the sport itself for over 2 decades now.
 

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gbatman

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The sport is still good. We all love watching out side play and win. However it could be better.

Our game mirrors a lot of other world games at present so it's probably more easily marketable. Soccer and Rugby are both very defensive and low scoring games that have enormous following world wide so IMO low scoring and solid defending isn't the issue so much as is the quality of the contest and the demonstrated skills.

IMO good footy is a good contest with a lot of good skills and some really strong physical feats.

I think it's important that skilled footballers are prioritised over gifted athletes. IMO the current setup doesn't dictate this. It's important that rebuilding sides are able to see results sooner and IMO the current setup doesn't allow for this.

We are seeing early draft picks, unless they are freaks languish in the reserves and struggle to have an impact at senior level more than we have ever seen. This is because it takes years and years for most players to not just build their mass and strength but to also be able to run at that level. You can't have a talented kid have a good off season and then play on and off the bench and develop in the seniors and have an impact anymore because of the interchange cap. They sit in the reserves for 4 years building their strength and running before they get a look in.

On the fringes of teams we are seeing guys who aren't very well skilled running around ahead of players who have far greater skills but just can't run at the modern standards.

We're seeing a shortage of key position players because they just can't fit so many talls into a team because they can't run at that level and they can't come off for a rest. We're seeing teams really struggle to play a second ruck and allow their CHF and FF to stay at home.

I think the changes the AFL are making with interchange caps mean well but are having the opposite affect. They are going to push the interchange cap harder this year and I hope it works and players may stay at home a bit more but I fear that we will see more untalented athletes, less talented youngsters and less talls. Basically less of what makes the game great. I hope I am wrong and the coming season will tell the story but I get the feeling that the changes the AFL have made will mean that we see less talented boring players running up and back all day, lots of slow "tempo" play and less run and gun attacking energised play.

We will see, coaches will go and find what they can win with. To be honest I don't mind the current AFL game style. Both teams go out there with a spread and attacking field. If one team is down for too long or gets too far behind, usually 25 or 30 points, they then put numbers behind the ball and try and defend their way into the game with intercepts and "play it safe" ball movement and score slowly while denying the opposition. The leading team either pick up on it and slow the game down and let time eat up on the other team and they go up the boundary line more or they don't pick up on it and start turning the ball over a lot and the other team gets back into the game slowly. Best example is the 2018 grand final which was a terrific game.
 

kickazz

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The sport is still good. We all love watching out side play and win. However it could be better.

That's the thing though - I recon you need to base an assessment on how good the game is to watch in general by how much you enjoy watching games without your team in them. For me, this has been slowly less and less over the last decade.
 

gbatman

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That's the thing though - I recon you need to base an assessment on how good the game is to watch in general by how much you enjoy watching games without your team in them. For me, this has been slowly less and less over the last decade.
I still love watching games with other teams in them. There have always been opposition teams I have loved watching over the years and some I don't. The thing is there are other factors to play as well, there is just so much on to watch these days. 20 years ago you turn the tv on when the footy was on and there wasn't much else to watch and we were used to that. Fast forward another 10 years and there was a little more but not much more. Now streaming services, good internet connections etc you can watch anything you want whenever you want and the thing is that is what we are all used to now. If the footy is only half good 10 or 20 years ago you still watched it and enjoyed it but now you can switch over to Netflix or what have you. IMO we are just used to a "stronger drug" these days. I think we have become to used to getting it our own way and watching exactly what we want to watch or having too many options and never feeling satisfied. IMO this is a big reason some people aren't enjoying the game as much as they did. The other reason is age. Yeah the game is changed and because we aren't used to it as much but for others they probably were younger and spent more time watching the game with mates and a few drinks which makes it a lot more fun than what some are doing now, watching the game without all that. However I feel the game could be better if there wasn't so much emphasis on running.

As for the quality of the game I did feel it was pretty good 10 years ago but has dwindled a little since the expansion clubs have came into the comp. There is no doubt that has significantly diluted the quality of the competition. GWS for example have a premium midfield and their reserves have a premium but young midfield because they drafted a heap of guns and keep losing players for top picks and keep replacing them with top quality early picks. Spread them over the league and the midfields of a lot of teams improve etc.

The AFL changing the interchange caps has taken the guts out of the exciting "impact" players in the league IMO. It takes longer for players to become AFL ready because of this so you see less talented but raw youngsters and players are trained to be leaner and lighter which IMO you aren't seeing the real Powerhouse impact types as much and your bottom 6 or 5 in each team are likely to be athletes who can run all day but don't have good skills and don't bring much excitement to the game rather than young talented raw players and skilled excitement machines who don't have the tank.

I think the AFL need to consider the following in regards to the quality of the game.

1. The game must favour natural and skilled footballer over athletes. Creating rules that building a strong emphasis on running, particularly over skills is bad for the game. Teams must be encouraged to play players who are skilled rather than endurance runners.

2. Shortening development timeframe for players needs to be considered. The more talented youngsters and the shorter time it takes for them to be in the system, the more talented footballers will be out there and that is good for the game. 4-5 years of development is too long but this is what many players face in the modern game and the rule changes have a lot to do with that. IMO the interchange cap has a lot to do with this.

3. Teams will always defend first, this is what the professional game looks like. IMO if you let teams defend as much and for as long as they like they will put more focus on attack. Once teams are satisfied they are defending the best they can they will focus on the attacking side of the game more and start to select players who are better skilled and better to watch.

4. IMO if you want to make the game better and go back to a style of footy that was played around the 2010s then you scrap the interchange caps and you allow 5 on the bench. This would encourage teams to play more impact players who are exciting. Run their players heavier and stronger and select more skilled players over better runners which opens the game up by having more skill and strength. It would also encourage teams to play taller up forward which IMO is better for the game and makes for faster ball movement and more attacking plays.
 

catters05

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That's the thing though - I recon you need to base an assessment on how good the game is to watch in general by how much you enjoy watching games without your team in them. For me, this has been slowly less and less over the last decade.
that is true, I used to enjoy watching many neutral games. Now I watch very few neutral games, I personally just find the sport very frustrating to watch, between new rules, umpires, commentary and game style.
 

harrythetiger

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Hit the nail on the head OP
To swing the balance in the direction of offensive play, the discussion needs to be about enabling that, rather than disabling defensive play.
Teams want to find ways to beat defences but they won’t ditch defensive systems they know work.
 

kickazz

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If the person on the mark cant move until play on is called, why wouldn't someone taking the kick just run around them? Every single time.

That rule will be a joke. Why do this and not even trial it in preseason games?
Well as soon as you run off your line, play on get's called, doesn't it?
 

greatwhiteshark

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Well as soon as you run off your line, play on get's called, doesn't it?
Correct but here is the problem. Players work off instinct and the bloke on the mark as soon as the kicker looks to go around or sideways will naturally move to cut that off. Umpires take to long to call play on and we are going to see free goal after goal given to sides for no reason. Who wants free goals gifted to anyone?
My personal view is coaches will instruct their players to not man the mark, stand 10m further back simply to avoid the gifted penalty.
Dont even need to see what happens, already know it will be another failed rule change.
 

Tiger08

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Well as soon as you run off your line, play on get's called, doesn't it?
I can just imagine Toby Nankervis on the mark trying to stop Paddy Dangerfield when Danger runs straight towards him.. sidesteps when he gets 2m from him (only then going off his line) and the umpire calling play on when Danger is 5 or 10m gone. There will be no point standing the mark. Why wouldn't Nankervis step back 1m, not be on the mark and then be able to defend properly by moving side to side?

Rule will be a farce.
 

gbatman

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The man on the mark rule is going to be a joke. The worst thing they can do to the game to ruin the appeal and look of it is to make it easy. Footy is supposed to be instinctive and the rules are mostly for players safety and fairness of the game. It shouldn't be about giving the offensive team and edge.

The more the AFL try and stifle defence the more teams are going to focus on defence when it comes to selecting players either through the draft or in their best 22. It's going to make the game very ugly.

More scoring isn't a good thing if the scoring looks easy. The most loved games in the world are games where the scoring is difficult and the game is challenging. Having a rule that lets the attacking player get around the defending player is going to look horrible, especially to people who haven't seen the game.

The best thing the AFL could do for the game is to fully embrace a defensive game and adapt the rules to suite attacking talented and highly skilled footballers over athletes. I've said it before and I will say it again. Scrap the kick out rule, scrap the man on the mark rule, scrap the interchange caps and put 5 on the bench. Then watch bigger stronger powerful footballers with skills and smarts and taller players up forward come to the fore over athletes who don't have these qualities but can run up and down the ground all day.
 

YeOldTiger

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I can just imagine Toby Nankervis on the mark trying to stop Paddy Dangerfield when Danger runs straight towards him.. sidesteps when he gets 2m from him (only then going off his line) and the umpire calling play on when Danger is 5 or 10m gone. There will be no point standing the mark. Why wouldn't Nankervis step back 1m, not be on the mark and then be able to defend properly by moving side to side?

Rule will be a farce.
The whole point of the rule is to get more goals scored. If that's from a 50 well Shocking doesn't care how they're scored. Ch7 get their goals-in-play ads up (they're furious at the low scoring) and earn extra revenue which means afl can charge more for the rights.

Open your eyes people, your game is being stolen for profit. Goals, goals, goals is the mantra at afl. Goals in live play is what the advertisers want. No advertiser want their expensive ads going in pre game, post game or the qtr and half time breaks. The premium spot for an ad is live in play because it's a solo 30 second ad and nobody goes for a leak in only 30 seconds.

What's the first thing you do at qtr time or half time ? Get up and go get a beer, a bite or go to the loo or whatever. You miss the ads that companies pay huge $$ for. All of these rule changes are designed to increase scoring. The stupid irony is that scoring is lower than ever. Shocking is an idiot and it's also arguable that many of his rule changes aid his old clubs' way of playing also. Leave the bloody game alone. He's turning it into Auskick. Pathetic.
 

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