Anger at studs-up backflip
Champions say the ‘speccie’ is in danger as league backs Dee
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’.”