With very few female players in the AFLW able to kick 50 metres and goalscoring difficult, a 50-metre penalty – which is applied in the same manner as the AFL – that results in a goal can be game- and season-changing.
On Sunday, St Kilda’s Molly McDonald gave away a 50-metre penalty with two minutes remaining that enabled Fremantle’s Kate Flood to kick a goal and level the scores. The Dockers scored a point and won the game.
Despite the decision being correct, Saints coach Peta Searle questioned post-match whether awarding the penalty was within the spirit of the game.
“When we want to give free kicks to the letter of the law or when we want to say ‘it’s grey’ and ‘when’s the spirit of the game?’, I don’t think it should be decided by an umpire’s decision,” Searle said.
“I think it should be looked at.”
In Geelong’s win over Richmond in Bendigo on Saturday, several goals were kicked as a result of 50-metre penalties but Hood said he had no problem with the penalty.
“I think there definitely should be 50-metre penalties in AFLW just like there is in the men’s competition, however sometimes the 50-metre penalty seems too severe for how technical the infringement is,” Hood said.
“The umpire can decide whether someone was deliberately trying to waste time and they might pay a 50-metre for that or if there is a slight technical infringement – I guess someone hasn’t followed the rules which need to be followed – then maybe what we need is a 25-metre penalty that doesn’t always result in an easy score to the opposition.”
The AFL confirmed there were no plans to make any rule changes mid-season with the competition committee reviewing rules when the season is over. The AFLW uses a smaller Sherrin than the men while they also play with 16 a side.