The AFL has instructed its umpires not to penalise players for infringing the protected area if they have ‘split’ from their opponent.
Since the introduction of the rule, clubs and players have tried to manipulate their opposition into entering the protected area, trying to cause a 50 metre penalty.
However, the League has offered their sympathies to the current players, tweaking the rule to avoid any of the controversial punishments to the defending player.
Port Adelaide legend and media personality Kane Cornes has offered his view on the matter, suggesting the rule be removed or adjusted, whilst starting a petition to pressure the AFL into change.
“My frustration has been building right throughout the season,” Cornes said on SEN.
“I understand rules, at times, can be boring and no one is ever going to be happy with the way the game is adjudicated.
“It’s come to a head with the 10-metre protected zone rule to the point that it is making a mockery of the game and we are asking players to do things that we should not be asking them to do.
“We can’t cop it, and I want to do something about it.”
The most recent contentious call was against Essendon’s Matt Guelfi in round 14 against St Kilda.
Attempting to prevent St Kilda midfielder Jack Sinclair from getting the ball, Guelfi tried to stay with Sinclair before they were split by Jack Billings, who had the ball in hand.
The umpire adjudicated the incident as Guelfi infringing in the protected area and was penalised 50 metres.
This example is an occurrence the AFL is wanting to stamp out, planning not to punish the defending player.
The AFL’s head of umpiring Dan Richardson said players were getting good at exploiting the rule, hence the need to tweak the law to ensure the integrity of the game.
“The protected area rule is designed for the kicker to have options to move the ball,” Richardson said.
“It is having the desired effect, however there have been more and more instances of players deliberately running their opponent into the zone with the intention of getting split and/or drawing a 50m penalty.
“If this ‘split’ of players happens, providing the defender moves to vacate the area, the umpires have been instructed to no longer apply a 50m penalty.
“Feedback is important, and we continually listen to a whole range of stakeholders, and this clarification will provide opportunity for the rule to be applied as intended.”