Jack Lukosius is tackled by Jayden Laverde in Gold Coast's match against Essendon in R12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

CLUBS have been provided further examples of the correct interpretation of the holding the ball rule after the AFL's focus last round.

The League made a mid-season adjustment to the interpretation of the rule ahead of round 12, directing umpires to shorten the 'reasonable time' a player has to dispose of the ball.


Across the round there was a rise of around 40 per cent in holding the ball decisions (at an average of 11.4 a game) compared to the season average of 8.4 a game between rounds zero to 11.

There were 2.9 free kicks per game paid for holding the ball in round 12 under the 'no prior opportunity – reasonable time – no genuine attempt' category compared to a season average of 0.4 a game in the rounds before that.

The AFL met with club football managers on Tuesday and followed up with a note on further coaching the umpires received on the 'reasonable time' and 'no genuine attempt' elements of the rule.


Included were visual examples of three decisions correctly paid as free kicks for holding the ball, another example where the ball was pinned by a tackle and called a ball-up and a fifth example of where the player made an attempt to dispose within a reasonable time and the decision was play on.

Essendon coach Brad Scott on Thursday said the examples had offered clubs extra clarification on how players should approach these moments in games.

"That was really helpful. There were five examples of correct decisions and an explanation as to why they were paid," Scott said.

"You can debate your opinion of the rule, but that's not of interest to us. What's of interest to us is the AFL and the umpires' interpretation of the rule and how they're going to adjudicate it. Those five examples gave us great clarification.

"It [adds] awareness of what is deemed 'reasonable time' to dispose of the ball. It's really helpful."


It adds to the preparation Scott is taking for his team ahead of its blockbuster Sunday night King's Birthday eve clash with Carlton. A crowd of more than 90,000 is expected at the MCG, with the two sides to play each other while both are in the top six on the ladder for the first time since 2013.

"Last year's inaugural King's Birthday game was massive and this promises to be even bigger so we're really excited about it. It's a real privilege at Essendon to be able to play in these big games on a regular basis. Both teams are playing good footy so it promises to be a great night," Scott said.

The Bombers have some selection decisions to make with defender Mason Redman ruled out due to a hamstring injury, but the club expects Kyle Langford, who was substituted out of last week's loss to Gold Coast with a hip injury, and ruckman Todd Goldstein (ankle) to be available.

Midfielders Will Setterfield and Dylan Shiel shape as potential inclusions against the Blues' star-studded midfield, however gun ball-getter Darcy Parish had a setback with his calf and won't be available until round 18 or 19.

"Darcy had what we thought was a very, very minor calf. He was only withdrawn from the game on gameday (in round 10) and not from a specific incident but an abundance of caution with a tight calf. It's certainly very frustrating in a very, very conservative rehab process that he felt his calf tighten up again," Scott said.

"We'll have to go back and go through all the processes because what we did do didn't work. It's not to say that we think Darcy's setback is major – it's very minor in the scheme of things and hopefully have him back soon after the bye – but my priority is getting him back to full fitness.

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge this season and he's going to be a really important player for us. We'll be conservative as we thought we were in this rehab process, but we've just got to get him right."