Anger at studs-up back­flip

Cham­pi­ons say the ‘spec­cie’ is in dan­ger as league backs Dee

Mercury (Hobart) - - AFL - JAY CLARK

FOOTY greats fear for the fu­ture of the “spec­cie” af­ter the AFL con­tro­ver­sially ticked off the con­tentious “studs-up” free kick paid against Colling­wood high-flyer Jeremy Howe on Mon­day.

How­ever, the rule is al­most cer­tain to be re­viewed and po­ten­tially rewrit­ten at sea­son’s end to help pre­serve one of the most bril­liant and unique as­pects of the game.

The league yes­ter­day backed the de­ci­sion to award Mel­bourne’s Tom McDon­ald a free kick af­ter Howe put his foot in the mid­dle of the De­mon’s back to reel in an­other spec­tac­u­lar high mark in the first term. It vi­o­lated rough con­duct rule 17.7.2 (d) “us­ing boot studs in a man­ner likely to cause in­jury”.

The de­ci­sion trig­gered out­cry across the league, with a bunch of for­mer cham­pi­ons say­ing the rule in­ter­pre­ta­tion threat­ened one of the most ex­cit­ing skills in the game.

“RIP high mark­ing,” Rich­mond great Matthew Richard­son said.

North Mel­bourne cham­pion Wayne Carey added: “It wasn’t dan­ger­ous in any way. [Tom] McDon­ald might get a pa­per cut.”

Colling­wood and Rich­mond spear­head Brian Tay­lor said: “If you take that out, you’re tak­ing one of the great com­po­nents of Aus­tralian rules foot­ball out of the game.”

The league brought in the new rule at the end of last sea­son to make a stand against play­ers lift­ing their boots into the faces of op­po­si­tion play­ers.

GWS for­ward Toby Greene has caused angst with his dan­ger­ous mark­ing tech­nique in re­cent sea­sons.

But Western Bull­dogs’ great Luke Darcy said Howe’s mark was dif­fer­ent as he stuck his foot into the back of Tom McDon­ald. McDon­ald was un­in­jured in the con­test, but um­pire Alex Whet­ton blew his whis­tle on the spot.

Darcy said the high mark should be en­cour­aged, not jeop­ar­dised.

“They’re go­ing to lose part of the game that is the most unique and bril­liant part of the game,” Darcy said. “For once at AFL House, put your hand up and say ‘No, that isn’t why we’ve got that rule’.”

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