Hypothetical - Spoiling

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Post by Flag No.10 on Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:50 pm

The number of contested marks in a game has dwindled over the years. In the AFL a total of about 20 contested marks per game is average. That’s 5 per quarter, or roughly 1 contested mark for every 6 minutes of footy.

So, what if spoiling marks was outlawed? i.e. in aerial contests the only permissible aim was to mark the ball. Would this result in more marks? And therefore in more spectacular marks? Would it slow the game up a bit (a stated aim of the AFL)? Would it be too frustrating to watch? Would it be impossible for umpires to determine if a player was genuinely trying to mark the ball, or just spoil it? Would it mean less zoning off and more man-on-man? Would it mean less wrestling by opponents?

Leaving aside the frustration that many feel about the regular tinkering with the rules, and remembering that this is a hypothetical, not a proposal, what would be the consequences of a rule change like this?

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Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:09 am

As a general rule, I subscribe to the leave the rules alone philosophy.

Just umpire it to how the rules are written (leaving no "interpretation") and let the players decide how the game should be played within that space.

I think more of the new rules or interpretations have done more damage than good in recent times.

Eg: the folly of the "rush a behind" fiasco - has created more uncertainty than it has policed acts of deliberate time wasting.
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Post by Admin on Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:55 pm

In the spirit that this is just a debating point as intended, it really makes you think about how it would change the game. There's no doubt it would mean more marks, as most forward entries with height now are punched away by several backmen at once.

It would bring a lot more enjoyment back, as per the old 'kick to kick' marking days.

Yes, it's unlikely to ever happen and it would be difficult to umpire, but what a lovely thought.
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Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:07 pm

So what is the point of a traditional full back.
It is as much an art to spoil as to mark it.

Just ask Steve Silvagni (FB of the century) and Mal Michael (had more spoils to advantage than anyone else in the comp wilst at Brisbane - yes they measure this).

What would Bruce Doull have done as defender - comb his hair for 2 hours?

Nope, still maintain leave the rules alone, there is enough there to allow both forwards and backs a decent contest - except the hands in the back - don't get me started!
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Post by howthewestwaswon on Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:16 am

No offence, but isn't what they've tried to do by outlawing hacking or chopping the arms of the player about to take the mark? scratch

That's why your contested marks have gone down, because these are now recorded as a free kick! Twisted Evil
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Post by Lee on Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:53 am

Chambo, I don't think Flag No 9 is pushing for a rule change, just speculating on what effect it woould have if it was brought in.

It would be an interesting scenario, but it's only a hypothetical.
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Post by Flag No.10 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:23 am

As R&B says, this isn't a proposal, it's a 'What if?'

Chambo Off To Work We Go wrote:So what is the point of a traditional full back.
It is as much an art to spoil as to mark it.

I disagree strongly there. I think climbing on someone's shoulders and catching the ball is infinitely more of an art than punching it away. It's far more difficult for a start, and far more entertaining for seconds.
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Post by Flag No.10 on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:30 am

howthewestwaswon wrote:No offence, but isn't what they've tried to do by outlawing hacking or chopping the arms of the player about to take the mark? scratch

That's why your contested marks have gone down, because these are now recorded as a free kick! Twisted Evil

No offence taken. But no, hacking or chopping the arms has never been a legitimate part of the game. I'm talking about spoiling that is within the rules of the game.
I don't quite follow the logic of your second point; the free kick for hacking would be awarded presumably because a mark was prevented from being taken. So if the free wasn't paid it would be play on, there's no "missing" contested mark.
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Post by Lee on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:32 am

Ian McKay. His mark was a constant feature on the front page of the footy budgets of the 60's and 70's, if I rememer correctly?
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Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:23 am

Flag No.9 wrote:As R&B says, this isn't a proposal, it's a 'What if?'

Chambo Off To Work We Go wrote:So what is the point of a traditional full back.
It is as much an art to spoil as to mark it.

I disagree strongly there. I think climbing on someone's shoulders and catching the ball is infinitely more of an art than punching it away. It's far more difficult for a start, and far more entertaining for seconds.

Yes you are right of course, that has been one of the best features of our game since footy began. The Ian McKay mark adorns the wall of my boardroom.

I suppose what I like is that you have 2 opponents, given an equal chance at a contest to employ means (within the rules of course) to put the ball to their side's advantage. Sure full backs have used lots of tactics, some not quite in the spirit or laws of the game to nullify the forward. These tactics are ever diminishing with tweaks like the arm chopping rule. So perhaps it could be argued that the contest is as even as it ever has been.

I am fine with all that, but if you take away the ability to spoil it, it is another fascinating part of our game that is being messed with. So I am not in favour.

No matter what approach you take either mark or spoil, for mine the ball has to be your object. There are still many defenders around that try to block, hold or watch their opponent and sometimes could not know where the ball is. You have to wonder if they actually ever want to get hold of the footy. Maybe they don't transgress the laws in so doing, but for mine it isn't a good look, but I guess it their or their coach's call on what they are instructed to do.

A Stats man told me about Mal Michael's "spoil to advantage" statistic, I then watched him in a different light and you could see how he established position to do that. But obviously, the ball was his object and I suppose during Brisbane's purple patch, he was quite effective with this tactic.

I realise that this is just a 'what if', so no problem to debate it hypothetically in this context.

I guess perhaps I am a bit of a tradionalist, and really don't like seeing the rules messed around with, to compensate for the way the game is or isn't played. I'll try to keep my "don't mess with the rules" mantra to another appropriate thread.

Just as an aside, Chris McDermott had an article today's paper with a similar theme about rule amendments.

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Post by Flag No.10 on Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:04 pm

No worries Chambo. Of course that tactic that you mention where defenders have their backs to the ball would probably disappear if spoiling wasn't allowed because the defenders would have to try to mark it, which would be pretty hard without watching the ball.

I don't have an issue with changing rules in general. I think it needs to happen as a response to the changes in tactics that the staff of 7 coaches at each club come up with. They're the ones to blame for all the rule changes, not the rules committee. As long as they continue to come up with things like screens, blocks, floods, clusters, zones, arm chopping, arm locking etc, the rules will need to change to counter many of these negative tactics.
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Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:14 pm

Or perhaps opposition coaches coming up with tactics to combat these things.
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Post by howthewestwaswon on Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:31 am

Flag No.9 wrote:
howthewestwaswon wrote:No offence, but isn't what they've tried to do by outlawing hacking or chopping the arms of the player about to take the mark? scratch

That's why your contested marks have gone down, because these are now recorded as a free kick! Twisted Evil

No offence taken. But no, hacking or chopping the arms has never been a legitimate part of the game. I'm talking about spoiling that is within the rules of the game.
I don't quite follow the logic of your second point; the free kick for hacking would be awarded presumably because a mark was prevented from being taken. So if the free wasn't paid it would be play on, there's no "missing" contested mark.

Sorry, should have elaborated (have a habit of not doing it!). I assume before the hacking rule was brought in, if a forward managed to mark the ball despite having his arms swiped at or being held onto by an opposition player, it would have been paid as a contested mark and that's what the umpire would have blown for - a mark. If he dropped the ball, then play on (unless, of course, the infringement from the opposition player was bleeding obvious).

Now that the umpires are more vigilant about this rule and miked up for all to hear etc, if this same scenario was played out, I have no doubt the whistle would be for a free kick, regardless if the player has marked the ball or not. You may see how this would influence some statistics.
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