Subjective Rule Enforcement Rears its Head in JLT Community Play

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Port Adelaide Power forward Charlie Dixon had his own opinion concerning the rather subjective interpretation of the rule that caught his teammate Robbie Gray as the culprit in an illegal bump against Jeremey McGovern of the West Coast Eagles.

The problem, claims Dixon, is that “no one” knows what exactly constitutes a bump.

If we might borrow from the rules of the NFL, we could say that “no one” knows what constitutes pass interference or illegal contact on the part of defensive players on offensive receivers, other than the note that the penalty is applied stringently in the early part of the season, but during the playoffs, it is seldom enforced.

It could be that AFL and NFL referees earn part of their livelihood as figure skating judges, but that source of revenue has dried up following the conclusion of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

Port tried to challenge the ruling, paying $10,000 for the right to have its day in court, but they might as well have put the $10,000 in a pile and set it in fire to benefit from the light and the heat.

Now, if this play had happened in the finals…

Dixon was quick to comment, even before the match review panel hearing and the ban and fine upheld.

He told Triple M Adelaide, “It wasn’t malice, it wasn’t anything — it was just an accident. What’s a player supposed to do? They’re both sort of going at the ball and the ball’s bounced up.I was sitting on the bench and looking at it, it looks like Robbie’s tried to take the ball and his arms didn’t raise or anything like that.I don’t even know what the system is, what the rules are, what you can and can’t do — no one does.To be honest, I don’t think it was anything.”

Dixon and the Power have been on the wrong side of the regs at other times, including in the elimination final when the referees awarded a high tackle free kick that led to a match-winning goal for the Eagles after the siren.