(Probably dumb) Question: why do we have the "in the back" rule for tackles?

didaksrightfoot

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Thread starter #1
(Mods feel free to move this, but I couldn't find a thread on this on the 1st 5 pages of the rules board)
Serious (but probably dumb) Question:

Why do we have the "in the back" rule for tackles?

It is one of the things that infuriates me the most about umpiring of games. A defender could put in an awesome chase and do everything right until that point, and then just because of the way he lands the tackle, or, (and more annoyingly) the way the player falls - he gets pinged for in the back and the tackled player gets rewarded.
It is also very common to see the guy being tackled drop their knees, or just fling themselves forward, in the hope of getting this call (often instead of HTB).
It just seems like a big price to pay and I dont actually understand why.

To add that, growing up I always played soccer and basketball, and the only 2 games of footy ive ever played have been casual inter-year games at Uni (where I was almost entirely useless).

I can understand that it may be poor tackling technique, but not why that deserves to be a free kick?
Is it deemed to have a higher rate of injury? Is it just because its seen as bad technique?

Does this infuriate everyone else, or is there something very fundamental to the rules of the game that I have completely missed?
 
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ManInWhite

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#2
Tackling is a skill just as much as marking and kicking. As such, a player needs to get the technique right. If a tackle forces a player forwards but is not paid, the game will just descend into non stop ram raiding where a team will recruit a couple of big units to just run around and knock players over like skittles. Definitely not a place you want the game to go.

In relation to players dropping the knees, that was addressed this year in relation to high tackles and if the umpire believes that a player dropped their body to turn a fair tackle into a high tackle, the free should not be paid - bit like ducking.

Players who obviously dive forwards or thrive on theatrics don't get free kicks for in the back either.
 

didaksrightfoot

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Thread starter #3
Tackling is a skill just as much as marking and kicking. As such, a player needs to get the technique right. If a tackle forces a player forwards but is not paid, the game will just descend into non stop ram raiding where a team will recruit a couple of big units to just run around and knock players over like skittles. Definitely not a place you want the game to go.
But being bad at kicking means your kicks will be less effective. It has nothing to do with the umpires (unless you kick it out on the full).
If you are bad at tackling - then maybe your tackle doesnt stick as well - but I don't see why it needs to be adjudicated.
What is inherently wrong about forcing a player forward? (Again - just in the tackle, I'm not talking about push-in-the-backs, or marking contest etc). How is tackling someone and they fall forward and different to them falling to the side or onto their back?
I just don't understand what the fundamental problem is that causes this to be a free kick.

The game descending into non-stop ram raiding? That makes no sense. If a player is strong enough to knock people out of the way in play he should be allowed to do so. Dusty tries to do it with his fend-offs every time he has the ball. I don't see what that has to do with tackles that are "in the back".
 

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#4
I guess it opens it up to way too much interpretation (which is dangerous for umpires), but I feel like 'in the back' should only be called on tackles if they obviously cannon into someone, or there's a clear push or second movement from the tackler to propel the opponent forward. Simpling ending up on a tackled player's back after bringing them down shouldn't be considered to be the same.
 

kickazz

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#5
(Mods feel free to move this, but I couldn't find a thread on this on the 1st 5 pages of the rules board)
Serious (but probably dumb) Question:

Why do have the "in the back" rule for tackles?

It is one of the things that infuriates me the most about umpiring of games. A defender could put in an awesome chase and do everything right until that point, and then just because of the way he lands the tackle, or, (and more annoyingly) the way the player falls - he gets pinged for in the back and the tackled player gets rewarded.
It is also very common to see the guy being tackled drop their knees, or just fling themselves forward, in the hope of getting this call (often instead of HTB).
It just seems like a big price to pay and I dont actually understand why.

To add that, growing up I always played soccer and basketball, and the only 2 games of footy ive ever played have been casual inter-year games at Uni (where I was almost entirely useless).

I can understand that it may be poor tackling technique, but not why that deserves to be a free kick?
Is it deemed to have a higher rate of injury? Is it just because its seen as bad technique?

Does this infuriate everyone else, or is there something very fundamental to the rules of the game that I have completely missed?
Because it would be too easy and requires little skill, yet is very effective at ******ing the ball carrier.
 

didaksrightfoot

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Thread starter #7
I like the above post pointing out the problem with pushes, or when there's a second movement.
That makes clear sense to me - that is the type of clarification I was seeking.

But these do not:

Because it would be too easy and requires little skill, yet is very effective at ******ing the ball carrier.
Who cares if its easier? Knocking on, or shovelling the ball (not technically allowed, but never called) out of congestion are also easier than taking possession and getting a clean disposal - doesn't stop you from being allowed to do it.
What does skill have to do with whether it is against the rules?

yeah imagine being able to tackle a bloke from behind and not care which way he landed - it would be a free for all
But players get tackled from behind all of the time - I would suggest that is the vast majority of tackles, especially in open play. If the the body is effectively wrapped up, if its not a trip or high, and if (given new MRP views) theres no head contact on the way down, what is the inherent difference between the tackler going forward vs going to the side?
 

BobbyMorri

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#8
They got rid of the rule back in the 1900's for a year IIRC. It was a disaster. Lots of injuries or something like that. They got the rule back straight away.
 

Simon_Nesbit

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#9
The rule is in place as a safety issue - to stop the tackler driving the tacklee's head into the ground (especially if they are maintaining possession, or arms pinned so they cannot brace for impact).

There are a few issues I have with the implementation and interpretation of the rule, especially once professionals start looking at ways to exploit it.

1. Unless you are both strong and balanced enough when tackling to hold the tacklee up, if they drop their knees and dive forward you will fall into their back. This requires the umpire to adjudicate WHO caused the tackle to travel forward - (for example run-down tackle when the tackler is lower than the tacklee, but momentum on hitting the ground drives them over). The simple call is to pay in the back, so players will 'play' for the free.

2. In the back is rarely paid (hence the Puopolo controversy above) when the tackler 'rolls' the player being tackled, or gets into the back after the player has been brought to ground. So common sense can apply there, but this then causes issues with some of the HTB interpretations.

I liken it to the high contact rule - replacing it with a simpler "Dangerous Tackle" or "Unreasonable Force" would have potential to make it easier to play, but opens the door for greater controversy when one call is made.
 

kickazz

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#10
Who cares if its easier? Knocking on, or shovelling the ball (not technically allowed, but never called) out of congestion are also easier than taking possession and getting a clean disposal - doesn't stop you from being allowed to do it.
What does skill have to do with whether it is against the rules?
The rules charter or whatever it is called explicitly states a list of principles which underpin the creation of the laws of the game.

One of those is that the player making the ball their objective should be favoured. Making it too easy to tackle, and thus perhaps making a player less likely to want to take possession and make the play, goes against this core principle.

Skill has to do with it because the AFL want the game to be entertaining. That is why the rule for in the back is waived when taking a speccy, for example. I don't know how long you've watched footy for but up until the early part of this century, tackling was less frequent but better to watch. Quality v quantity and all of that.

Players have never had the "right" to an easy tackle.
 

Hoops

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#11
I have previously advocated to get rid of the push in the back and just keep the hands in the back rule for this very reason. It's unnecessary, and is open to too much interpretation.
This shouldn't be a free though it was there.
Gwilt dove forward not to play for a free but to clear himself for a handball. Mooney did nothing wrong, saw a player with the ball and tackled without driving him forward.
 
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didaksrightfoot

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Thread starter #12
The rules charter or whatever it is called explicitly states a list of principles which underpin the creation of the laws of the game.

One of those is that the player making the ball their objective should be favoured. Making it too easy to tackle, and thus perhaps making a player less likely to want to take possession and make the play, goes against this core principle.

Skill has to do with it because the AFL want the game to be entertaining. That is why the rule for in the back is waived when taking a speccy, for example. I don't know how long you've watched footy for but up until the early part of this century, tackling was less frequent but better to watch. Quality v quantity and all of that.

Players have never had the "right" to an easy tackle.
Again - none of your points make sense to me.

Rules exist largely because an action may provide an unfair advantage or disadvantage, but also because of safety. That applies to most things in the AFL. "Hands in the back" or "chopping the arm" unfairly impedes someone in the marking contest, HTB exists to encourage the attacker to dispose of the ball and reward the tackler. (Ie. Without HTB - the unfair advantage would be to an attacking player who could just try to break through tackles without having to dispose of the ball)

If a tackle is "in the back" but doesn't involve any of the things mentioned by Simon_Nesbit or Damon_3388, (thanks for your posts guys) then is it an unfair tackle just because it is "in the back"? That is what I want to clarify.

And ive been watching footy for 30years - so i don't see as having anything to do with the "quality" of tackling having changed. (But maybe more to do with players trying to take advantage of it - or at least thats the perception)
 

kickazz

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#13
Rules exist largely because an action may provide an unfair advantage or disadvantage, but also because of safety.
Allowing a player to take a "free kick" when they "mark" the ball has nothing to do with the quoted reasons for rules.

That rule exists primarily to help create the desired aesthetic of the game. (Just as things like the centre square, distance between goal posts, not allowing throwing, and a host of other rules do. It's not about cheating or fairness or safety as such, it is about what we want the game to be)

Hopefully that helps explain the angle I'm coming from here.

No doubt in the back has a considerable safety/fairness element to it. But in my opinion, I think there is an aesthetic factor as well, whereby a tackle that pushes a player in the back is deemed undesirable because it is proportionally too easy to execute for the outcome it gives for the player doing it; thus effecting the aesthetic of the game.

Obviously there is the problem of the tackled player unfairly exploiting the rule and "faking it", as has been mentioned. But I think that is a separate issue to the one of why the the rule exists in the first place.
 

didaksrightfoot

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Thread starter #15
Allowing a player to take a "free kick" when they "mark" the ball has nothing to do with the quoted reasons for rules.

That rule exists primarily to help create the desired aesthetic of the game. (Just as things like the centre square, distance between goal posts, not allowing throwing, and a host of other rules do. It's not about cheating or fairness or safety as such, it is about what we want the game to be)

Hopefully that helps explain the angle I'm coming from here.

No doubt in the back has a considerable safety/fairness element to it. But in my opinion, I think there is an aesthetic factor as well, whereby a tackle that pushes a player in the back is deemed undesirable because it is proportionally too easy to execute for the outcome it gives for the player doing it; thus effecting the aesthetic of the game.

Obviously there is the problem of the tackled player unfairly exploiting the rule and "faking it", as has been mentioned. But I think that is a separate issue to the one of why the the rule exists in the first place.
Yep that makes sense.
 
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#16
Anyone remember the day that a young Buddy Franklin left Ben Cousins gasping for air with a big bump, only to get piledriven into the MCG turf by Beau Waters and Chad Fletcher shortly afterwards? Buddy hurt his shoulder quite badly in that tackle if I remember correctly, and theres no doubt the Eagles boys knew what they were doing and were evening it up after Cousins copped one.

I don't think it would be good for the game if it became legal for players to get slammed into the ground like Buddy was that day.
 

cleomenes

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#17
In terms of tackles, the in the back free should probably be subsumed into the dangerous tackle free - the latter is recent and allows the umpire to make a sensible judgement. Most run down tackles could be interpreted as in the back, but few are dangerous - those ones involve driving a player into the ground to hurt him. The free kick when the run down fails, and a player is pushed in the back as he kicks, although not dangerous, should stay.
Pushes in the back while marking need more enforcement, not less.
Pushes in the back in general play, like holds in general play, that stop one player from getting the ball and allow another a free run are frequent and rarely paid.
Pushes in the back that involve one player ending up on top of another as they go to ground are rarely dangerous, mostly inadvertent and don't effect play but are the most frequently paid.
The ones where a player effectively jumps on a prone opponents back are rare, deadly dangerous and should be reportable as dangerous.
There is a lot in the in the back bag to consider, and the rules could actually be simplified around the dangerous tackle concept.
The new interpretation for marking is the most worrying for me.
 

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#18
Yep. Great question. The original intention of "in the back" was to stop players pushing others players into dangerous positions. So for instance, pushing a player over the boundary line so they end up with a stuffed wrist for the rest of their life (ie me).

IMHO, as long as the player is not being driven head first into the ground, then the tackle should be deemed legal. The interpretation seems to be loose anyway - I've seen players barely brush a players back and get pinned. And I've seen players ride their opponent like they're going down a Slip and Slide and it's play on.
 

Wallaby

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#20
Sports have 'silly' rules- almost be definition- otherwise they wouldn't be sports or games.

Most rules are there to emphasize a skill aspect or decrease the reliance on a pure physical ability.

Interestingly, all of the football sports have variations of the In-the-back role. I suspect one reason is that it is dangerous and seen as unfair to tackle/bump/collide with another player from where he cant see you.
 

Rusty Brookes

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#21
Was this in the original rules Tom Wills wrote, or in an appendix, or where is it that you source this information?
I'll pull out my source but I've got a history of the game book (can't think which one) which mentioned there was a heap of injuries from players being pushed into dangerous situations and hence the introduction of the rule. It wasn't in the original Wills rules as I remember it.
 
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#22
Likely because it's just too easy to tackle someone from behind ramming them in the back. Doesn't take as much skill as a legal tackle.

I see it all the time in the NFL but works better in that sport, Aussie rules not so much.
 

col44

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#23
Aussie Rules is one of the few contact sports where you can be tackled from any direction with other opponents (or as suggested above event a fence could be).
Driving an opponent forward absolutely places a player at heightened risk of serious injury and hence it's a very logical rule.
Where professionalism has taken the game players are now placing themselves at heightened risk of injury to try win a free kick. The drop the knees when being tackled is used by most while lifting an arm when being tackled (the Duckwood) is used brilliantly by about 10 players (2 of which I acknowledge are Hawks.)
The in the back rule was also established in the times of the bump. Imagine someone about to lay a massive front on bump to someone being tackled from behind.. while falling forward, with no protection.. well its goodnight at best.
In the back is a great rule, we just need to Police the players putting themselves at risk.
 

Man0gwaR74

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#24
The 'in the back' rule for tackles was a change to the interpretation of the rules so that the AFL could create 'grey areas' within the rules so that they could manipulate games to serve their hidden agendas!
Aussie Rules is one of the few contact sports where you can be tackled from any direction with other opponents (or as suggested above event a fence could be).
Driving an opponent forward absolutely places a player at heightened risk of serious injury and hence it's a very logical rule.
Where professionalism has taken the game players are now placing themselves at heightened risk of injury to try win a free kick. The drop the knees when being tackled is used by most while lifting an arm when being tackled (the Duckwood) is used brilliantly by about 10 players (2 of which I acknowledge are Hawks.)
The in the back rule was also established in the times of the bump. Imagine someone about to lay a massive front on bump to someone being tackled from behind.. while falling forward, with no protection.. well its goodnight at best.
In the back is a great rule, we just need to Police the players putting themselves at risk.
The AFL already had a rule in place for that called 'unduly rough play', which entitles the umpire to award a free kick against and maybe even report! #REWARDEFFORT
 
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