AFL rule changes for 2021 leave commentators incensed at fiasco

Another rule change. Another farce.

The AFL’s new standing the mark rule divided the footy world on Thursday night, leaving many commentators scratching their heads about the officiating.

While there was outcry at a controversial rushed-behind free-kick given against Carlton defender Liam Jones, the anger at the umpiring peaked just before half time when the Tigers were awarded a 50m penalty on the back of Blues’ utility Sam Petrevski-Seton being whacked for infringing on the 5m rule.

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Petrevski-Seton’s stutter-step while manning the mark on centre wing resulted in a 50m penalty that saw Josh Caddy convert a goal just before half time, handing the Tigers a fourth straight goal before half time.

Under the new rule, players are essentially prohibited from moving side-to-side more than a metre while on the mark this year — once the umpire has called stand in the seconds following a mark or free-kick.

It comes after the AFL came under criticism for introducing the 23rd player and medical substitution rule just days before the season opener.

Josh Caddy converted the goal.Source:Getty Images

Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas and Collingwood captain Scott Pendleburyboth took to Twitter to declare their concern at the new rule and how it has changed the game.

“If the AFL are happy for games to be decided by 50m penalties because of their man on mark rule the game is truly cooked,” Thomas posted on Twitter.

Pendlebury posted: “Since we can make rules changes very quickly in our game. Man on the mark rule, east west movement equals 50, north south doesn’t matter. It’s about opening up 45’s. Common sense please”.

Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge said in commentary on Channel 7 it was harsh for Petrevski-Seton to be penalised.

“That’s the hardest thing as a player when there’s a crowd there,” Hodge said.

“We could all hear it because we’ve got the mic, but the player is 20m away from him (the umpire), he could not hear him and he thought he’d backed back enough.”

Hodge also criticised the earlier decision that went against Jones when he fumbled a ball over the goal line while not under any pressure.

“If we pay that all year there is going to be a lot of angry supporters,” he said.

Other footy commentators voiced their displeasure at yet another rule change that has failed to improve the spectacle.

The pedantry of AFL rules is approaching rugby union levels. Free kicks or 50 metre penalties for minuscule “infringements”. So bad I almost feel sorry for Carlton.#AFLTigersBlues

The umpiring is a debacle. #AFLTigersBlues

We didn’t need to reach round one to realise this standing the mark rule is utter trash. But here we are 🤷‍♂️#AFL#AFLTigersBlues

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