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An Open Letter to The Rules Committee

As AFL Dream Team coaches, one of the last things we want to see is our players getting rubbed out for a few weeks thanks to being reported. Even worse, is when they’re reported for rules that shouldn’t exist in the first place. This week, RLGriffin85 sends his Open Letter To: The AFL Rules Committee .

Every Monday night DTTalk’s regular GWS guru @RLGriffin85 steps up to the plate to articulate the thoughts of AFL Dream Team coaches everywhere. Be it pointing the finger of blame at Senior AFL Coaches, setting a fire below underperforming players or just throw away comments about how bad Zac ‘Lurch’ Dawson really is; there’s no topic he isn’t willing to write about! Who’s in his sights this week?

An Open Letter to: The Rules Committee


Dear AFL Rules Committee,

Let me tell you a story. You seem to like stories over facts and physics. Muddled definitions and a lack of clarity seem to be your thing. So here goes:

Once upon a time I was in a relationship with a beautiful girl. A beautiful, loving, crazy as bat-shit girl! One day I came home and she was done up to the nines, dressed (barely) in a skimpy outfit that would make Shane Crawford blush. I was very impressed. After a hard day of Saturday overtime I would get to be spoiled as I walked thr… “I’m going out” she said. I just shook my head in disbelief.

You see we had plans to go out that night; a romantic dinner at home, followed by coffee at a café and then on to a late night movie. Her choice of course! I mean I’d never suggest going out on a date at the same night as footy game, but nonetheless, I was willing to put aside a Saturday night football match to spend the night with her. The fact that North Melbourne vs Brisbane Lions was the only free to air match on had nothing to do with it.

But instead of going along with the plans we had made, she decided to change the rules on me. I wasn’t angry, confused perhaps, but not angry. I figured, okay, I’d been at work and she had the whole day to herself, she would have done the right thing by me, maybe even prepared me a meal, I could still salvage the night. I was wrong. Neeld selecting Colin ‘Glass Bones’ Sylvia over Tom ‘Pick Me’ Couch wrong!

Even though I spent all day Saturday working overtime to pay off her my credit card, she thought the best thing to do with her time during the day was to make vodka jelly-shots for her friends, screw around with the DVD player only to break the TV (all in the name of watching some shitty Matthew McConaughey movie), and simply, be about as selfish as Taylor Walker in front of goal. To make room in the fridge for the vodka, out came my beer to the bench, out came the steak I was going to have for dinner to the freezer, and with the TV not working, out came the angry.

Now I’m not the angry type. I find provocation funny; like watching Aaron Sandilands try to well, anyone. And provocation is usually as effective as Zac Dawson trying to spear a pass across the defensive fifty whilst under pressure. But when you change the rules half way through plans, because you think you can, with no consultation or acceptance for logic, you’re going to piss someone off. That brings me to you.

Let’s look at some raw, out of context data: I know you’ll love it!

The official Laws of Football document on the AFL website is 88 pages long, with 107 different rules, laws or definitions and interpretations (that’s how many I counted; I may have missed some). The document guides the game; from the size of the padding on the behind posts to the regulations around lifting a teammate (page 56 for those from Fremantle who have considered throwing Hayden Ballantyne over the fence). Compare this to that over-ruled, over adjudicated round ball game soccer, which has 17 rules.

In 1994, you, the Rules Committee believed the game needed to be sped up, increasing the number of interchange players to 3. Again in 1998 the Committee added another interchange player to speed up the game. In 2006, again to speed up the game, timed set shots were introduced (and in part because Matthew Lloyd was only allowing ten minutes of actual play time per quarter). Then in 2011, you, the Committee believed the game was too quick, reducing the interchange and introducing a sub. What… the hell… are you doing!? Aussie Rules is not your play thing.

Now, in 2012, the Rules Committee want to make another change. No sliding. Maybe it’s been too long since you played the game. Sliding is (a) a legitimate technique for decades for protecting yourself when approaching a contest whilst keeping your hands free to dispose of the ball, and (b), fun! If Adam Goodes slides into a contest to get the ball, keeping his weight balanced to dish off a handball, and another player also attacks the football, but chooses not to protect himself, if that player gets hurt, apparently that would be through Adam’s negligence, not his own!? That’s the dumbest thing I heard since Adam Cooney was announced the winner of the Brownlow medal!

If sportsmen liked the idea of a kicking game where you can still use your hands, where contact only came from one direction, the pace could be controlled by the referee and players had to be standing when picking up the ball or otherwise get penalised, they’d play Rugby Union. The dynamics of AFL in which a player could be hit from any direction, can slide, jump and generally attack the football from any position, whilst taking due care for others is what draws so many to the game. If a player gets injured because they don’t protect themselves (see: Justin Koschitzke’s line of sight), that’s their own fault! Yes the AFL is a professional organisation, but so is the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Army; employees know what they risk when they sign up.

Fans love the game. Fans don’t love getting screwed around. Don’t micromanage every little spot fire that flares up. Accidents happen; look at Richmond drafting Tambling before Franklin, oops! When you change the rules you’ll get a counter reaction. Already this round, players are diving in head first to contests or second guessing approaches after you announced a crack down on sliding. You sped up the game; players got tired and rotated more. You told players to get to the ball first, players slid in. You stop players sliding in; they’ll find another way to hurt each other whilst trying to win the ball.

When it comes to the rule book, let me give you some advice that was of great help to me when I was fourteen. ‘Keep your hands off it, do not screw around with it, and with any luck, you won’t piss anyone off enough to cut it off’! Thanks for the advice dad – going well so far.



The Wider AFL Community

Born Adelaide, Lived Darwin, Resides Canberra. A Crows fan as a child, I have became a big supporter of the GWS Giants in their foundation year. I love my footy, multimedia design and beer(s).



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    May 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    I remember playing juniors and my coach said if your first to the ball in a contested situation you will never give away a free kick. Now players seem to want to be second in and tackle the ball carrier, it’s a joke. Flooding tactics are another issue, it makes it scrappy and not as entertaining as a fast, open, free flowing game.

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    the sandgroper

    May 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    well said Griffin, I think you have hit the nail on the head.
    My old man shakes his head in disbelief when it comes to some of the rules they have changed/introduced over the years.
    In fact I think the old man spat out his EB when he heard about this latest change and uttered the words “back in my day”

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    May 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Loving it Griff. Superb!

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    May 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Cheers for the great read Griff

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    Big Feller

    May 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Great read Griff.
    I reckon the best game of footy I’ve ever seen is the 89 grand final (Hawks v Cats) and that didn’t seem to have any rules! Let’s get back to that I say.
    By the way – what happened to the girl Griff?

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      the sandgroper

      May 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      I think you may be right Big Feller, I dont think that decade had any rules (well, crap ones anyway)

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      May 14, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      I believe she is still doing jelly shots and going out on the town. Good for her! #eightyearson

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    May 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I’ll drink too that!!
    Well done Griff!!

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    May 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Top letter Griff, while its an important part of DT its great to get a breather from the should I trade player A for player B and a topical AFL issue is the perfect thing. I as a Joel Selwood owner am worried about the new rules. If he was getting hit in the head alot before this not doubt he will be now, the only practical way to go in lower now with out sliding, is superman diving onto the ball, but wait you get pinned for holding the ball.

    My little vent, Im just annoyed like everyone and as you said having that many rules is a joke. As a teacher you need to treat the players like school children nice, easy simple rules, they will get broken but thats ok, they will learn and hopefully not do it again.

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    May 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Ha ha! Great half time reading Griff! Thanks mate!

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    May 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Great article Griff, thats the thing that pisses me off the most with our game, is how much it has changed, just leave the bloody rules alone and the game will be fine. as for umpires, they need to just shut up and umpire the game instead of saying ” dont touch each other or ill have to pay a free” when all the players are doing is just having a bit of a bump and push around off the ball, or when they say ” you clearly had your finger in his back” when clearly he didnt!!!! JUST SHUT THE F&^K UP AND UMPIRE THE GAME!!! anyhow once again great read, i think u should deffinatly send it in!!!

    on another topic… good is Monday night football!!!

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    May 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm


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    May 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    Well done!
    You’ve hit the nail on the head…….with Thor’s Hammer!

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    May 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Very nice indeed Griff! Bloody true too!

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    May 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    The way the slippery slope is progressing, soon it’ll resemble ‘soccer with hands’ – by 2016 AFL will be a non-contact sport if these clowns continue unabated.

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    May 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Loving your work as usual Griff! If I had to read one more freaking thread with everyone quoting their score and their fingernail-biting (*yawn*) position in Eliminator I’d have screamed like a chick who found out her blind date with an AFL footballer was Cameron Ling.

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    May 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    great letter griff, you should send it to Adrian Anderson.

    The other thing you could have mentioned is the lack of enforcing the incorrect disposal rule, its like the rugby play the ball now, if you cant get a handball just drop it to your teammates advantage.

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      May 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      there was also a great article last week by nathan burke in inside football on a similar topic if anyone wants a read.

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        May 15, 2012 at 4:55 am

        Great article griff.
        I couldn’t agree more.

        RE: How *Holding the ball* is umpired & Incorrect disposal – they’re my biggest gripes with the modern game.
        Dropping the ball is a tactical advantage that teams exploit, and many times the tacklers’ hands are nowhere near the ball, yet the ball-carrier drops it anyway…should be a bloody free kick.
        Forwards get away with dropping the ball all the time, yet defender’s seemed to still get pinged now and then.
        WTF is with that?

        I’d love to see the Bump come back into the game, and I reckon there’s one way it could happen.
        GET RID OF THE M.R.P.
        We don’t want players rubbed out for weeks at a time for something as innocuous as a sling tackle. People pay money to see the stars of the game play.
        Instead, do what they do in amateur footy.
        If you have a punch-on with someone, do a bit of eye-gouging, stand on someones’ head etc., you go to the sin-bin/get a red card, whatever, and your team has to make do with a man down on the field (not the bench)
        If that (victim) player is out of the game, for something you did that was outside the rules of the game, you don’t get to play until they come back.
        Seems simple, and means that if you do something horrible like king-hit Brent Staker in the face, you’re off the field, and you team has to make do with a one less man on the field.
        I’d much rather see a sin-bin or card system in footy instead of players getting banned next week.

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    Grim Reaper

    May 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Ha Ha Ha, very funny letter, great job Griff. 100% spot on and loved the player jibes. The Cooney one was a pisser.

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    May 14, 2012 at 11:54 pm


    Could not agree more Nick.

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    May 15, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Great stuff Griffo! Time for a second sub anyone?

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    May 15, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Nice my man.

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    May 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Love all the others, but this is easily my favourite article every week. Keep em’ coming!

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    May 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Griff, this man will cook that steak for ya bro! This is your BEST YET!!
    Someone please forward to as many AFL contacts as possible… Start a petition… something to save our game!!!!

    Three rules I’m sick of:

    #1 – The Advantage Rule – Introduced in the past few years, it goes COMPLETELY AGAINST how an Australian Rules player is conditioned to play i.e. PLAY TO THE *#$%in’ WHISTLE! when the whistle goes for a free kick during play, we stop and look at the umpire, halting play. Just because some kent grabs the ball n starts running again, doesnt mean all should be ready and willing to do so. its misdirection. ITS LIKE THE UMPIRE INTENTIONALLY BOUNCING THE BALL TO START THE QUARTER WHEN NO ONES LOOKIN :@

    #2 – Hands in the Back – When I started playing U14s in 2002, you literally had to shove the bloke to the ground to give away a free kick. It got harder and harder as we got up to Seniors to NOT give away a free kick, because the rules were aligned with the AFL changes. Now i’m told the interpretation is that you can not extend your arm if you use your hands to stop a player backing into you but blokes that dont extend get pinned for it every week; they use their elbows instead and still get pinned. Faaaaaaaark.

    #3 – Rough Conduct Charges/Reprimands – uuuummmmm im pretty sure this what we watch the game or play the game for; epic physicality! You know you’ve youtubed “AFL big hits” at some point n shown your soccer-playin gimp friends, sayin “in our sport, we aren’t a bunch of sooks”…. I’m worried it’ll be the other way around soon. About 5-10years ago, you could BUY dvds called AFLs BIG HITS & BIFFS at bloody Kmart for Ablett’s sake!! NOW?? Its called ‘Guilty or Not Guilty – Highlights from the MRP’… Kents…. It used to be a common old tactic to take a player out of the game; keep hittin him over the ball. Now its only good for costing yourself $900+ or a few games and a Brownlow (Sam Mitchell…almost).

    Surely there are some old school Aussie footballers on the Rules committee with the words ‘in my day, we werent a bunch of poofs, and we’d do what it took to win the footy’ stuck in the wrinkly throats…SPEAK UP! As much as I freakin LOVE DT and all the growing massive scores, piggies like Swan n Stanton didnt run so free back in the day from what I’ve seen; they’d get decked n tagged rougher than cattle. Just cause players are worth more in the modern era, doesnt mean its up to the committees to protect them.

    Again, great one Griff, I feel better now :D

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      May 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      Haha! Get stuck into em’ mate!!!!!!

      Totally agree about the advantage rule, it’s a blight on our game!

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    May 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    first time i read your article. bloody brilliant keep up the good work.

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