In the aftermath of the inadvertent public release of a memo from Steve Hocking to the coaches of all eight AFLW sides advising them how to keep space forward of a stoppage uncluttered, all manner of opinions have surfaced with regard to how to improve scoring in AFLW matches.
Not just the AFLW, but the AFL also has the similar issue of how to keep the Sherrin moving.
Hocking’s advice seems to carry the consequence of moving players further back into the defensive area, possibly even behind the defensive 50s.
One suggestion that caught our attention was that it is not the space ahead of the stoppage, but the stoppage itself that bore the brunt of the responsibility for the low scoring affairs the AFLW produced in Round 1.
The congestion issue is not new; it has been debated previously and the solution might be to penalize players that engage in tactics to stop the football.
A typical tactic, especially in the developing AFLW, is to fall on the ball in traffic, in order to deny the other side clear passage with the ball. That is a valid tactic within the rules of footy and any change must come from the rules of footy.
The umpires have quite a bit of influence over ball movement and flow during the game and can award a free kick against players who drag the ball or dive on top of it to prevent the ball spilling free, but the implementation of that influence is not strict enough in the eyes of many.
Were the umpires to do so, the players would automatically adjust and the games would be higher scoring, which could give Steve Hocking the time necessary to wipe the egg off his face.
It is not necessary to completely rejigger the rules of the women’s game, but would having footy grounds of uniform size provide at least some relief, eliminating players from adjusting to different grounds?
On the other hand, like baseball, having field dimensions play an impact of the game of Australian Rules is a distinct part of the appeal.