Issue of Runners on Ground During Play Impacts AFL

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The issue of runners on the field during play at AFL matches causes a fair bit of controversy.

In a recent match between the Sydney Swans and the North Melbourne Kangaroos, Swans’ runner Jeremy Ladler spent what was described as, “a significant part of the closing minutes,” of the game on the ground.

Frankly, the practice is absurd in the extreme. In the instance of Ladler, he for all the world gave the appearance of “manning up” one of the Roos players.

He was almost dead centre-ground with play on. That is simply ludicrous. Runners should be off the field before play resumes. Not headed off, not thinking about heading off, just off. Off altogether.

Ladler was out there with 43 seconds left, and it would seem that his thinking was, “Well, as long as I’m out here, I might as well stay.”

It does not seem as though his presence affected the game, but if one of the Roos saw him out of the corner of his eye and had possession, might he have decided agasint sending the ball in the direction of the North Melbourne player?

Why not let the fans out of the stands meander around aimlessly during the game?

Send the beer man out there as well.

Melbourne veteran Jordan Lewis favours the approach of letting the runners on to deliver the coach’s instructions only during the stoppage after goals. He also believes that they should be off before play resumes, even if it means delaying the restart.

That this is even a topic is difficult to believe.

Lewis did not think that Ladler was compromising play.

Jack Riewoldt expressed the view that the clubs that use ex-player or coaches as runners gain an advantage when they stay on the ground longer.

Riewoldt told AFL 360, “I know that our runner doesn’t. He’s our weights coach and I actually don’t know whether he knows our game plan — he just comes out and gives the messages out.”

“Your wife called. She wants you to pick up milk on your way home from the match.”