Mason Cox floats radical solution to AFL rule almost never enforced amid Izak Rankine backlash

The American believes bouncing the ball in AFL should be scrapped.

Collingwood big man Mason Cox has called for the AFL to scrap bouncing of the ball from the game as one of the league's worst enforced rules comes under the microscope. The AFL has been urged to clarify its rules in recent weeks in the wake of backlash to several controversial umpiring decisions.

And it is a call made in round 11 around running too far without bouncing the ball that has drawn some of the heaviest scrutiny with many questioning why for the only time in recent memory a player was pinged for the offence. With 22 seconds remaining and Adelaide trailing by four points, the Crows' Izak Rankine took off down the left wing, had a bounce and kept running before kicking the ball inside 50m in a desperate late attempt to snatch the game away from the Pies.

Mason Cox believes bouncing the ball in AFL should be scrapped. Image: Getty
Mason Cox believes bouncing the ball in AFL should be scrapped. Image: Getty

After the ball was launched into the goal square the umpire blew his whistle for Rankine running too far as the Pies held on for a 12.6 (78) to 11.8 (74) win. It was an extremely marginal call and is an offence that is overlooked in almost every game.

"Where’s the sense of occasion from the umpire?” Leigh Montagna said on Fox Footy. With Jack Riewoldt adding: "Oh no". Riewoldt counted out Rankine's steps to 14, with the AFL rule stating a player must bounce the ball at least once every 15 metres.

Post-match analysis showed the umpire made the correct call because Rankine ran further than 15 metres without bouncing. But the AFL world was still left outraged, stating that it was not an appropriate time to call the much-flouted rule.

AFL journalist Michael Whiting wrote on X: "If Rankine ran too far, gee there’s a lot missed every weekend". And his opinion was the general consensus, with many of the belief that it isn't a call that should never be made unless it is beyond reasonable doubt.


But Cox believes there is no need for players to bounce the ball at all and says the rule should be scrapped for good. "I think there shouldn't be a rule where you have to bounce it," Cox said on his podcast The Mason Cox Show. "I know it is a crazy thing that might get a lot of backlash and stuff but I don't really think you should have to bounce it. I think you should be able to run as far as you want.

"Why just why? It's stupid. Surely we can just run, why do we have to touch the ground? Who made that, and what is the reasoning behind that? So slower players can catch up to the fast ones? Is that why?"

"It is another skill you have to master," co-host Brayden Cox interjected. To which Cox replied: "I appreciate that but I don't think it adds to the spectacle of AFL".

Cox is currently out for at least six weeks as the reigning premiers count the cost of their mounting injury toll. The Pies big man took a knock to the face during the draw with the Dockers last weekend and also twisted his knee in a tackle, with the knee injury seeing him set for a stint on the sidelines.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: Mason Cox of the Magpies is assisted off the field injured during the 2024 AFL Round 11 match between Walyalup (Fremantle) and the Collingwood Magpies at Optus Stadium on May 24, 2024 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Mason Cox has been ruled out for at least six weeks after picking up an MCL injury on the weekend.

"In addition to the concussion, scans have confirmed Cox sustained a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury from the match," a statement from Collingwood said. "The 33-year-old is expected to return in six weeks' time while he rehabilitates the MCL injury."

While Collingwood goal-kicker Brody Mihocek also re-injured his troublesome hamstring against Fremantle and will miss three to five weeks. While Pies star Jordan De Goey will miss up to another month of football with an abdominal tendon tear.