The jury is still out after 6 games of the 2018 version of the four umpire trial. Free kicks were up slightly and commentators who were previously forwards in the game certainly relished the additional protection afforded their present day players received.
One four umpire game was unfortunately reduced to three when veteran field umpire, Shaun Ryan was forced from the ground in the second quarter with a leg injury.
Four umpires officiated in two matches over the round. They umpired the Thursday night game in Adelaide and returned to the MCG on Sunday. Feedback was generally positive because the AFL configured the four umpires differently for this trial which meant the physical load was reduced significantly.
Gold Coast and Sydney NEAFL players got a big surprise when they turned up to kick the dew off the grass at Metricon Stadium on Saturday. Three field umpires walked out onto the ground with nearly 500 AFL games of experience between them. Justin Schmitt (355 games) and Andrew Mitchell (107) were returning to football following injuries. The third wheel was former AFL umpire, Brett Ritchie who is now living in Brisbane, acting as the AFL match day coach and umpiring in the NEAFL competition. Brett was on the panel for 2 years umpiring 22 AFL games.
Seven field umpires were rested this weekend with three byes occurring in each of the next two weekends. Like the players, it gives the opportunity for the umpires to step off the treadmill, take a deep breath and rejuvenate the body. On the injury front both Scott Jeffery and Luke Farmer who have not seen any action in 2018 tell me they are both only a couple of weeks from returning to football which is great news.
Both the boundary and goal group are clear of injuries for the first time in many years. This has allowed them to be rotated and rested during the bye rounds also.
Our FM MDE participant this weekend saw Metricon Stadium at its finest. Thomas Ross-Buzza got into the game. Our chaperone, Nick Liparota said, “you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.”
It was great to see former WA boundary umpire, Jace Collingridge return to running after a career ending back injury forced him into retirement at the tender age of 21 back in 2015. Jace recently won a novelty sprint race in Leonora. Jace returned to training six months ago and has not been hampered by any injury to date. See the article on our website in the newsfeed.
It appears that the VAR (video assistant referee) system in the World Cup is afflicted by the same issues that have transpired in both AFL football and International cricket. They have moved the responsibility from on field officials into the hands of off field officials only to be plagued by the same result, human error. We have only introduced it to eradicate the “howler” the error everyone but the referee sees. Which is unfortunately never the case. Is there a perfect system?