Collingwood accused of 'deliberate' rule breach in final stages of AFL grand final

Many are questioning whether the Magpies broke the rules on purpose before the goal that put them back in front for good.

Jordan de Goey, pictured here after Collingwood were warned for breaking the 6-6-6 rule.
Jordan de Goey (R) kicked the match-winning goal after Collingwood were warned for breaking the 6-6-6 rule (L). Image: Channel 7/Getty

Questions are being asked about whether Collingwood deliberately broke the 6-6-6 rule late in the AFL grand final in order to get a more favourable ball-up, rather than a bounce. The Magpies won a pulsating grand final by just four points, beating Brisbane 12.18 (90) to 13.8 (86).

In the aftermath, eagle-eyed fans have pointed out a potentially sneaky detail that the majority missed. The Lions had just taken an 80-78 lead with five minutes remaining after a brilliant goal from Charlie Cameron.

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The umpire was just about to restart play with a centre bounce, before another umpire informed him that the Pies had broken the 6-6-6 rule that only allows a team to have six players in each 'third' of the field. "Just an unnecessary hold up," Brian Taylor said in commentary for Channel 7. Matthew Richardson added: "Why do we need it. We shouldn't bother (with the rule) anymore."

But what seemed like an innocuous and unnecessary hold up sparked theories that Collingwood had actually done it on purpose. Under the much-maligned rule, teams receive a warning for the first offence.

But here's the kicker. After a 6-6-6 violation, the restart is changed from a bounce to a ball-up. Instead of the unpredictability of a bounce, the Magpies knew exactly where the ball would go from a ball-up.

It meant Mason Cox was able to tap the ball down to Nick Daicos, who got it straight to Scott Pendlebury who heaved it forward. After the ball spilled back away from a contest, Daicos produced a brilliant hand-ball to Jordan de Goey, who kicked a sensational goal from 50 out to put the Pies back in front for good.

Collingwood, pictured here copping a warning for breaking the 6-6-6 rule in the AFL grand final.
Collingwood copped a warning for breaking the 6-6-6 rule. Image: Channel 7

Did Collingwood break the rules on purpose?

Some fans have since suggested the Magpies broke the 6-6-6 rule on purpose so they could use a set-play on the ensuing ball-up. Collingwood and coach Craig McRae are well-known to have practiced for almost every scenario that could have come up in the dying stages of the grand final.

Rudi Edsall of Triple M wrote on social media: "I’m surprised there hasn’t been more made about the 6-6-6 warning against Collingwood that meant the centre bounce was changed to a ball up before Jordan de Goey’s fourth quarter goal. Seems a bit odd to me that a team is able to profit so much from their own infringement. Also I don’t really understand the need for a warning at all. Just pay a free, everyone knows the rules."

Jordan de Goey, pictured here after kicking the goal that put the Magpies back in front for good.
Jordan de Goey kicked the goal that put the Magpies back in front for good. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Another person wrote: "Definitely a chance the Pies did a deliberate 6-6-6 call to get a throw-up, a predictable ball trajectory for a set play, and probably better for the taller Cox with less opposition run-up, on that centre restart after the Lions hit the lead." Another added: "A lot of talk about the advantage from yesterday, but the real story is that Collingwood intentionally gave away a 6-6-6 infringement in order to run a set play after Brisbane hit the lead."

A fourth person commented: "So instead of punishing Collingwood for breaking 6-6-6, three years since its been introduced, they get a throw up to advantage and score a goal. Makes sense."

Some suggested Brisbane pulled the same trick not long after. While it wasn't really picked up on the broadcast, that ball-up appeared to come about because the umpire fluffed the bounce.

Were the Lions dudded by advantage call in grand final?

Brisbane fans were crying foul on a number of fronts after the game, most notably when the umpires called advantage and cost the Lions a chance to attack. One of the umpires paid a free kick to the Lions after Lachie Neale was taken around the legs, just as the co-captain was hand-balling to Zac Bailey.

Whether or not Bailey heard the whistle remains to be seen, but the Lions star played on and got away a kick that went straight to the Magpies and resulted in a turnover. “That wasn’t a good advantage that one,” Richardson said in commentary. “That is ridiculous. They didn’t know it was their free kick.”

Co-commentator Luke Hodge added: “Poor advantage this. They didn’t know there was a free kick. Tripped the ankle. That is not advantage.”

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