The AFL has issued a warning players will no longer be rewarded with free kicks when they duck or shrug their heads in tackles.
- The AFL says its priority will still be to protect the ball carrier
- But from now on, “the ball carrier has a duty of care to not put themselves in a position for high contact”
- Collingwood’s Jack Ginnivan has been at the centre of controversy over what should constitute a high tackle free kick
The AFL has sought to clarify its position on head-high contact after heated debate surrounding young Collingwood dynamo Jack Ginnivan and whether he was being umpired differently to other players.
It says a player with the ball, who is deemed to have a prior opportunity, and attempts to shrug, duck or lift an arm will be called for holding the ball.
Via a statement to clubs and the media, the AFL highlighted three examples, one involving Ginnivan, from rounds 17 and 18 to demonstrate players ducking or shrugging tackles.
The AFL admitted umpires had incorrectly paid a free kick to Melbourne forward Kysaiah Pickett after he shrugged a tackle from Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas.
“First and foremost, players attempting to win the ball must be protected and the onus of duty of care is on the tackler,” the AFL’s head of umpiring Dan Richardson said.
“However, having won the ball, the ball carrier has a duty of care to not put themselves in a position for high contact.
“Ultimately, the rules do not reward players for putting themselves in vulnerable positions to draw a free kick.
“This is something we prefer not to see in our game at any level.
“Our umpires strive to get every decision right, every single time, however there are instances where, just like players, decisions are made at full speed at ground level without the benefit of slow-motion replay.
“The health and safety of players is the primary concern of both the AFL and the clubs, and we will continue to work with clubs, their coaching panels, as well as players, to ensure the safety of the game.”
Hawthorn’s Dylan Moore and Carlton captain Patrick Cripps (29 each) have received the most free kicks this season, followed by four players with 28.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC