Incidental contact

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avijae

Draftee
Sep 6, 2015
17
3
Wisconsin, USA
AFL Club
Geelong
Just watching the freeo/dog match, and being in America, and not being able to see every match, there was a free awarded in the third turn when Nat "tackled" Lachie Hunter because of a "high" tackle. Nat had indeed made contact above the shoulders, but there was no "intention" and Nat didn't take advantage of the high contact. I'm just wondering if there's any conversation of letting the umpires make it a judgement call, and allowing "high" contact if there's not intent or I guess you could call it "interference". As someone watching from the U.S., I can't always figure out the penalties and possession, although I've recently come to understand that a player needs "opportunity" AND "genuine effort", which has cleared up some of my confusion. It seems that the umpires have a lot of control (which is as it should be) and I'm curious if this topic is being discussed, or if *any* high contact is automatically awarded a free to help prevent injury.
 

hcd199

Club Legend
Apr 29, 2009
2,156
1,449
Hobart
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Waterford GAA, Glenorchy, Hob (BBL)
A "legal tackle" is defined as being "below the shoulders and above the knees". Making any sort of high contact is also prohibited (Law 18.3.2(c)), but whether a player "makes" such contact involves a judgement call by the umpire as to the extent that the other player contributed to it being high (e.g., if he ducks to try and draw a free, it will often be 'play on').

The only specific reference in the rules to "incidental contact" is that it's permitted where the player's "sole objective" is contesting/spoiling a mark (Law 18.5.3), so for example, jumping onto someone's shoulders to take a grab isn't a free for high contact (this is where the "unrealistic attempt" call comes in, if you're familiar with that, effectively the umpire is saying their objective couldn't have been contesting the mark because they jumped too early for that to be a realistic prospect). Broadly, though, intent won't be relevant to high contact frees - accidental high contact will still be a free against.

You can read the 2020 rules here, for what it's worth; as my reply kind of demonstrates, there's often a bit of interpretive distance between how the rules are written and how they're applied, so it may not clarify everything, but hopefully it's helpful regardless.
 

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Fadge

Norm Smith Medallist
Mar 4, 2007
7,033
5,615
Melbourne
AFL Club
Collingwood
The rules are very clear.

If you're in the top 20 players in the comp, all contact is incidental.

If you're outside of the top 20, and are involved in exactly the same incident, you risk up to a 3 or 4 week suspension.
 

wal

Premiership Player
Mar 13, 2004
3,380
3,425
6160
AFL Club
Fremantle
Other Teams
EFFC
The rules are very clear.

If you're in the top 20 players in the comp, all contact is incidental.

If you're outside of the top 20, and are involved in exactly the same incident, you risk up to a 3 or 4 week suspension.
You don't think Fyfe is a top 20 player?
 

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