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There's really no benefit: Umpires coach in favour of scrapping bounce

Travis King  February 22, 2017 8:42 AM

Centre bounce howlers Why the tradition of the bounce is under threat
(For) the game, in my opinion anyway, there's really no benefit

UMPIRES coach Hayden Kennedy has called for the iconic centre bounce to be scrapped. 

Kennedy doesn't support the traditional start to quarters and resumption after goals, believing the practice takes too much toll on umpires' bodies and acts as a barrier to some umpires coming through the ranks. 

"(For) the game, in my opinion anyway, there's really no benefit," Kennedy told 3AW radio.

"I think by throwing it up and creating an even contest on all occasions is probably the best way for us to go.

"It's also got some huge impact on the community level as well. We don't want to stop good umpires coming through because they can't bounce or they don't bounce currently at the community level.

"That will certainly have an influence on what type of crop (of umpires) we can get up next.

"If (umpires) can't bounce well – male or female – we don't want to exclude them if they're really good umpires and really good decision-makers."

Bounces at stoppages around the ground were replaced by throw-ups in 2013, and a spate of shoulder, back and hamstring injuries suffered by umpires late last season could endanger the centre bounce.

Kennedy, whose League-record 495-game umpiring career was cut short by hamstring issues, said the amount of practice needed to master the bounce – and to apply it on gameday – put umpires' bodies under significant strain.

"To get that skill right, it's a really demanding and dynamic movement," he said. 

"We have got an older list, so to do it for 15 or 20 years, and at the community level beforehand, it takes a fair toll on the body." 

Kennedy said the AFL Umpires Association would "work towards" putting forward a recommendation about the centre bounce to the Laws of the Game Committee at their next meeting early in the premiership season.

The AFL empowered umpires to recall an errant centre bounce and throw the ball up in 2009, but has previously resisted scrapping the tradition altogether.

"It's been up to the laws committee a few years ago, but we've had a few more injuries of late – especially towards the end of last year," Kennedy said. 

"(The centre bounce is) a really unique and traditional aspect of the game. We just have to make a decision as to what is more important." 

At his first media conference after taking over as AFL chief executive three years ago, Gillon McLachlan endorsed the unique part of the sport. 

"I'm not making guarantees about anything, but I like the centre bounce," McLachlan said.