Analysis Umpires

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Mumma Mebbie
Feb 6, 2013
Locker #5
AFL Club
My son is one and I know from the inner sanctum that they do a lot of work and it's a thankless and difficult job.

My suggestion going forward would be to make them full time and give them a good salary. I believe making them full time will improve their professionalism
It's amazing how little respect the players have for the umpires. There's not many sports where you can go ARE YOU ******* SERIOUS WHAT FOR in the face of the ump/ref.


Premium Gold
Dec 7, 2014
AFL Club
Other Teams
Philadelphia 76ers
Bolton handled the umpiring situation in his post-match inteview with class. Big contrast between him and Malthouse.

Speaking objectively though, the umpiring standard has plummeted significantly from previous years. Not just Carlton games, every game I watch there's these big 'wtf?' moments in their decisions. I think it's fair to say however, they're doing they best they can with grey-area rules that are open for interpretation compounded with the fact there's multiple different umpires with different perspectives at one time.

I feel like complaining about them doesn't achieve anything and have conceded to the fact that quality umpiring is now a coin flip that has seen us on the wrong side more often than not. I'm hoping the recent harsh adjudication of the rules on our club will improve the way we go about it by inciting smarter football strategies.


All Australian
Apr 16, 2018
South West
AFL Club
Not a conspiracy theorist on this subject. Don't believe there is a hidden agenda... thats BS.
If you look at the incidence of rule changes from day dot and look at the year to year totals to date.
I bet my left knack that the numbers of changes has increased over the past 5-10-20 years.
Then consider the guidance that umpires are given on interpretation that seems to vary in weighting.
Its little wonder we end up with a degree of inconsistency. 30 years ago everybody knew the rules, there was not much in the way of interpretation nuances.
Times have changed and I think umpiring is a much more difficult and complex gig than it was 30 years ago.
Maybe the answer is full-time umpires, and they can spend more time on reviews, training, interpretation analysis....etc

Blue Doormat

All Australian
May 15, 2014
AFL Club
A couple of points.

1. Investment
It begs belief that there is not more investment in grassroots umpiring. When children reach their upper limit of football but still love and want to be a part of the game umpiring is the perfect opportunity.
2. Humility
I myself umpired 2 junior football games on the weekend. It’s not easy and with many around the ball its easy to get blindsided.
I was/am very critical of the display on the weekend. I understand their difficulties.
But it is an easy fix in my view. Just come out and admit the mistakes. For the record I did on the weekend. I called the ball back, balled it up and apologised. I’m not suggesting this approach in an AFL grand final but some humility in a post match review wouldn’t go astray either. It’s not about placating the masses rather reinforcing a view that umpires are aiming for excellence and own mistakes (it is a professional sport after all)


All Australian
Jul 5, 2011
AFL Club
Only thing to reduce the incompetence, inconsistency of umpires is to reduce the rules and/or number of umpires on the ground - the game may get rougher, may get quicker and might become unfair for those that don’t adapt quickly

but less rules and then less umpires would make it more consistent at least

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Super Moderator
Aug 12, 2012
sv_cheats 1
AFL Club
Other Teams
Edmonton Oilers
Takes a certain kind of personality to be an umpire.

Problem is, that sort of personality isn't best for if you want to be an umpire....

All jokes aside, it's a tough gig and we'd have to be one of the last professional sports leagues to technically have amateurs refereeing. Should be fixed.


Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 16, 2015
AFL Club
Other Teams
My son is one and I know from the inner sanctum that they do a lot of work and it's a thankless and difficult job.

My suggestion going forward would be to make them full time and give them a good salary. I believe making them full time will improve their professionalism
What level does your son ump? What does he think about going full time?
I can't believe they aren't its madness.

Faz 2000

Norm Smith Medallist
May 10, 2007
Under the table
AFL Club
Other Teams
Pittsburgh Penguins
Umpiring is nearly impossible with the excessive number of interpretations, tweaks and focus-rule-of-the-week the AFL has. Couple this with the fact players stage, exaggerate and scrap for any advantage, and I can’t blame the umpirES for the frustrating state of umpirING.

Carlton are awful at gamesmanship. We don’t goad, cajole, flop or niggle nearly as well as most of the rest of the league. That’s why we get the raw prawn sometimes. Not the umps.

PS - ways to improve umpiring would be make them pro (pay the enough), increase the number of umps so they can be “dropped”, give and encourage them to use powers for awarding frees for abuse, but mostly simplify and streamline the rules. There are too many rules, too much ambiguity and worst of all rules that counteract each other. Eg. High contact vs contact below the knees.
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Brownlow Medallist
May 1, 2016
AFL Club
See, I think the idea that you need to remove the number of umpires from proceedings - when the biggest source of dissatisfaction from most fans watching the game can be drawn from the umpire being on the blindside of a stoppage, and missing something because there's bodies between them and a clear rule violation - is reductionist at best. What I'd do is this: have 3 umpires surrounding a stoppage, aggressively simplify the rules surrounding incorrect disposal ("Was it a clear handpass or kick? If not, incorrect disposal and free kick") and completely allowing everything short of belting someone in the head in the ruck contest; if you're strong enough to block your opponent away from the ball in a ruck contest, why would you not be allowed to use that superior strength?

Three umpires around the play, at all times, with a system of changing control of the game depending on where the play is to switch between them; an umpire not in control cannot call frees around the play, but is instead to look for off the ball stuff, reducing undue niggle.

What this sort of thing would take is a) boundary umpires being allowed to call free kicks as per main umpires, if play is within their area (it is ridiculous that their only duties relate to boundary infringements and throwing a ball over their heads), b) umpires to become professional, as such a system would require practice and collective training to ensure that it works. It would also require a method of ironing out what would happen if 2 frees in the opposite direction occurred at once and both were called; ideally, that'd be settled by another stoppage, ball up and play on.

Pay more 50's for players attempting to slow down play; the good old Clarkson/Sheedy "Sorry, which way is that free for? Sorry I can't here you. Okay, it's for him? Oh, I'll just let him up now, this is me letting him up! Now, here's the ball, watch me throw the ball. Oops, I've lollied it to you, aren't I silly (What's that? The zone's set now?) Okay, let's get going again, hurry up!" Nuh-uh; bullshit. Gaming the umpires who are reluctant to call frees because they don't want their names plastered over the front page of the HUN by people 'wanting to watch the AFL players play, not an umpire assert themselves and get their ten seconds of fame'.

The only issue - and it depends on whether you see this as an issue, really - is that you could realistically see tallies of 100-150 free kicks per game, before sides adapted to the new setup, and the population at large would not be okay with that, so indoctrinated by the media and by a general dislike of umpires that they see a free kick as holding up the game, stopping the players from playing. What this would do, though, is reduce the impact of free kicks to the result of a match, as both sides are getting 50+ frees a game, and it'd probably increase scoring, as some % of those frees will be within forward 50.

Also, a 50m penalty to anyone who would talk back after an umpire's decision would sharpen the respect they would get. The way they're treated is ridiculous.

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