'Oh my God': AFL world loses the plot over 'horrible' moment

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles, pictured here during an AFL scratch match.
The AFL's new 'stand' rule has caused more drama. Image: 7AFL

The AFL's new man-on-the-mark rule has sparked more controversy after it reared its ugly head in a practice match between West Coast and Fremantle on Saturday.

The AFL has introduced a new rule for 2021 which prohibits players from moving side-to-side when standing on the mark.

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If umpires deem a player has moved too far they will award a 50-metre penalty.

Players are also not allowed to be replaced on the mark by a teammate, a move designed to encourage more scoring.

However the rule has already sparked major controversy after footage of two incidents went viral in the last week.

On Saturday, AFL fans and pundits blew up after Fremantle's Brennan Cox was pinged.

With West Coast youngster Oscar Allen preparing to take a free kick from 35 metres out, Cox turned his back while standing on the mark.

Cox spun around and moved slightly to the side, enough for the umpire to award a 50-metre penalty.

West Coast star Nic Naitanui was among those in disbelief over the strange scenes.

Collingwood legend Mick McGuane tweeted: “Oh my God. Little commonsense applied here. Penalty far too severe for such a minor indiscretion.”

Radio host Mark Allen wrote: “This can’t be right. AFL - please fix. Tell us this isn’t how the rule is supposed to be used this season. #MindNumbing.”

Sports writer Titus O’Reily added: “Not a ridiculous rule at all.”

Carlton player Sam Kerridge labelled it “horrible" and hard to watch”, while Port Adelaide great Kane Corned wrote: “The scary part — this is the correct decision under the new rule.”

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AFL world divided over new rule

Sydney Swans great Jude Bolton said the video was “really poor”.

“From my perspective, it’s such a small sample size at the moment, it’s hard to make a real judgment on how it’s going to impact the season moving forward,” Bolton told The Age.

“However of that sample size, it’s been really poor from my perspective.

“I feel like we’re just making it one of the hardest games to adjudicate, which puts undue pressure on the umpires, which creates unnecessary angst in the crowd.”

Oscar Allen, pictured here during the AFL practice match between West Coast Eagles and Fremantle.
Oscar Allen takes a mark during the AFL practice match between West Coast Eagles and Fremantle. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

However former St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said the new rule will have the desired effect of creating a more free-flowing open game.

"I think you’ll find that (increased scoring) across the competition because of the way you’ll have to man the mark," he said.

“Teams will strategise based on their own personnel around that play, it does give opportunity. You are able to move the ball quicker.

“Ironically we thought we moved the ball too quickly and needed to compose ourself more.

"I think that’ll be a trend given he has to have concrete boots on and teams will exploit that.

“I’d be surprised if it didn’t, it allows you to find the corridor and roll.”

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