5 April 2015

Shooting high

We've had loads of talk about high shots this season, particularly after it all kicked off with Patrick Ah Van's opening night send off.

I've discussed a list of offences that would be penalties up to send offs. It's going to be difficult to illustrate them with examples so feel free to put examples forward. (*I note that this intentionally fails to cover other striking offences like punching or shoulder charges which I see as separate to high tackles)

There are a number of factors that tend to be referred to in the disciplinary write ups or if you hear the on field officials justifying a decision:
Open hand or closed fist
Reaching/grabbing or swinging arm
Direct head contact or secondary contact off the ball/shoulder/chest
Full body to aim tackle at or opponent dipping or stepping in to contact

These have to be the types of things you look at when coming up with a list, as well as the 'careless, reckless or intentional' classifications.

Rarely do we see a high shot considered to be intentional. When it does happen these have to be punished by a send off. Often it's fair to say most are careless. It's not really fair to punish these with anything more than a penalty and maybe a caution or Grade A charge from the MRP from time to time. Most of the red or yellow offences below would fall into the 'reckless' group of trying to make a tackle but being reckless about the outcome.

So how would my list look for on field incidents?

Direct head contact, swinging arm, closed fist, full body to aim at

Direct head contact, swinging arm, open hand, full body to aim at
Secondary contact, swinging arm, closed fist, full body to aim at
Direct head contact, swinging arm, closed fist, opponent dipping or stepping
Direct head contact, reaching/grabbing, closed fist, full body to aim at

Penalty only
Direct head contact, reaching/grabbing, open hand, opponent dipping or stepping
Secondary contact, swinging arm, open hand, opponent dipping/stepping
Secondary contact, reaching/grabbing, open hand, full body to aim at

A simple way of looking at it is anything incidental but high is a penalty, anything forceful and high is a sin bin and anything high and nasty is a send off. My justification for having such a narrow send off category is a red card can be a massive moment in a fixture and the game is so fast and so tough that it's hard for clear cut decisions to be made by officials on the fly. We have a review process that can pay more attention to any incidents that deserve more scrutiny.

I would be more inclined to see bigger bans across the piece to players guilty of head shots than necessarily more send offs in pressure situations. The bar for grading punches or shoulder charges is set higher than high shots. I understand why as one is more rare and often a deliberate act and the other happens plenty and is often incidental, but we do need to start at Grade B for more head shots so that bans are handed out more and it forces players and coaches to rethink their methods.

Let me know what you think? Am I being too soft on the red card front? Are there other ways of defining them that I've missed?

As always, thanks for reading and we love hearing from you so do get in touch. Any good comments will also get coverage on the show.