‘‘Two of the clear examples was when the players stopped and there was no whistle. That’s happened in my games two or three times over the years, but really, that’s just the result of the noise level.
“The players just can’t hear whether or not there’s been a whistle. Because of the scream of the crowd, they assume there’s been a whistle, they stop, look at us, we’re calling ‘play on’.’’
Decisions explained by Ryan included:
■ Magpie Jack Crisp was adjudicated to have disposed of the ball properly after breaking a Mark Baguley tackle before Joe Daniher brought him to ground. Crisp handballed the ball away.
■ Daniher’s tackle on Crisp, with Crisp able to get the ball away after a second Daniher effort, thus not penalised.
■ Scott Pendlebury’s free kick for high contact came after high front-on contact with Bombers who weren’t stationary, so it wasn’t play on.
■ Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s high contact came after the umpire decided he shrugged his arm up as tackled, raising the height of Brodie Grundy’s tackle, so it was not paid.
■ Jaidyn Stephenson didn’t have prior opportunity and got a kick away, with Callum Brown then pushed in the back and receiving a free.
[Players] assume there’s been a whistle, they stop, look at us, we’re calling ‘play on’.
Shaun Ryan, AFL umpire
There was also a bemusing free kick in Friday night’s Port Adelaide-North Melbourne clash with Power’s Xavier Duursma awarded a free for being tackled dangerously by North’s Sam Wright when it looked as though he should have been penalised for holding the ball.
Clarkson described Australian rules football as ‘‘the most complex game in the world’’ and says the raft of 2019 rule changes have only made the umpire’s job more difficult.
‘‘It was demanding enough to be able to umpire even prior to these adjustments that have been made and there’s still a significant grey area around the player with ball,’’ Clarkson said yesterday.
‘‘Prior to last week’s round there was 4000 tackles that had been laid in four rounds and there was 300 infringements for holding ball so that’s about 7 per cent of all tackles. That suggests to me that 93 per cent of players in tackling situations have disposed of the ball correctly – if that isn’t the greyest area of our game [I don’t know what is].
‘‘We saw it again on Anzac Day and unfortunately it just sends the crowd nuts and we could fix up stoppages, we could fix up ball movement and speed of play.’’
Clarkson believes umpiring is ‘‘lagging behind’’ every other aspect of the AFL in terms of professionalism.
‘‘I feel like there’s a role for full-time umpires, that we’d need to phase that in over a significant period of time,’’ he said.
Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.