The AFL’s new director of umpiring, Peter Schwab, has pinpointed three key issues ahead of the pre-season competition that begins in just under one month’s time.
This isn’t Schwab’s firrt time in the role, as the former Hawthorn premiership player did hold the position in 1998-99, and has made the move back into the job after most recently being the list manager at the Brisbane Lions.
Deliberate rushed behinds, the ban on the third-man up at ruck contests and stricter high tackle calls are all at the forefront of Schwab’s mind, as the director told SEN the rushed behind rule in particular will be judged more harshly.
“You’ll find it’s a lot stricter,” he said.
“If a player has had the opportunity to clear the ball and dispose of it to someone else, but chooses not to do it and it goes through the goal line then you’ll find they’re going to be penalised.
“It will take some time and adjustment, but it will be obvious watching the game there has been a change.”
Schwab also touched on the third-man up ruck ruling, but admitted that will be tougher to police in the early part of the season as everyone adjusts to the new rules.
“The umpires need to be clear on who is contesting the ruck, and you don’t want the game delayed for too long because of that,” Schwab said.
“Are we going to wait for someone to take the throw in or the ball up? We’ll have to work through that one logistically, but I don’t think it will be an issue.”
Schwab has also confirmed another issue around the ruck interpretation, stating that in the instance of a short boundary throw in, no player will be able to contest the ball until it touches the ground.
The ex-Hawthorn coach also answered a question surrounding full-time umpires, but Schwab is under the impression they can produce a better standard of umpiring without creating a new full-time role for the whistle blowers.
“I’m more inclined to ask what is the best amount of time for us to have access to the umpires in order to achieve the best results on the weekend.
“Two full days or three half days should be our thinking on that rather than a Monday-Friday regardless,” he said.