AFL won’t budge on runners or 50-metre penalty rule despite coach concerns


“It won’t happen, and for good reason,” Hocking said.

“There was always going to be the odd clunkiness around certain rules but the important call out for me is that all of those rules work together. They were actually a suite of rules that were going to impact time and space.

“We are not going to move away from that.”

Hocking is set to meet coaches on Thursday morning at an annual breakfast between the AFL and coaches after Western Bulldogs’ coach Luke Beveridge said on Sunday he expected the limitation on runners to be modified.

Brisbane Lions’ coach Chris Fagan, who is a member of the competition committee, and senior Lions player Luke Hodge have also expressed concern that only allowing runners to be used after goals are scored will have a negative impact on young teams and could lead to blow-outs in margins.

However the AFL’s view is that an adjustment process will occur at the start of the season before players, coaches and supporters become used to the rules and adapt accordingly.

Hocking said the decision to only limit runners was made to remove clutter from the ground, fulfilling the objective to create more space.

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He said it was too difficult in practical terms to impose a limit on the number of times a coach could use a runner per quarter because club runners would still spend too much time on the ground for the AFL’s liking.

He said one club runner spent 17 minutes in a 30-minute quarter on the ground during a game last season.

Hocking dismissed many of the coach’s concerns about the difficulties created by the limitations on runners saying the new rule was fair for both teams.

The AFL also believes there will be fewer 100-metre penalties paid as players become more used to manning the mark in such situations, with Hocking saying the rationale for the rule was to keep space open ahead of the ball when a 50-metre penalty was paid after years of clubs using delaying tactics in such situations to clog up space.

The AFL’s James Podsiadly said the second 50-metre penalty awarded against Port Adelaide’s Justin Westhoff when North Melbourne’s Tom Cambell took off quickly after receiving a 50-metre penalty was line-ball and that the umpire had erred in not giving Kangaroos’ skipper Jack Ziebell a second 50-metre penalty minutes later.

He said the AFL would prefer not to see 100-metre penalties awarded but there would always be teething problems.

“The umpire gives that player two warnings,” Podsiadly said.

“If the player doesn’t get out after two warnings that is when the double 50-metre penalty will be paid.”

Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.

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