REMEMBER the pre-season hysteria about the new 'stand' rule tearing at the fabric of the game?
A clip from an Essendon intraclub of Kyle Langford moving off his spot and conceding a 50-metre penalty set discussion alight about how the new rule would change football forever.
There were fears that a spate of 50-metre penalties would be a blight on the game, with senior coaches among those concerned about the penalty not fitting the crime of an inch or two movement to the side, front or back.
Even West Coast gun Nic Naitanui expressed his unease about the rule after the Eagles were given a certain goal following a Fremantle infringement in a practice match.
Here’s a taste of the new rule playing out pic.twitter.com/zHGB6zORvX— Raw Rodd (@NotRodd) February 20, 2021
But almost halfway through the season the reality of the rule is far from that predicted frenzy.
For one, the rule has opened up avenues to goal that have been closed off for years by defensively minded teams and coaches, and helped bring key forwards back into the game.
And secondly, the adjustment of players and umpires to the 'stand' directive has been faster than most predicted.
Across the season so far, the numbers show that there have been 24 50-metre penalties paid for players moving on the mark after they have been told to stand by the umpire.
That is 24 free kicks across 81 games with an average of nearly three per round and 0.3 a game.
Each game has approximately 220 instances where a player stands the mark. Push that out and it means there are between 1980-2000 instances where a player stands the mark every round.
Although unusual at first for players, who had to stop their motion and break the habit of moving off the mark, the AFL believes more than 500 club visits over the pre-season from the umpiring department helped assist in the change of behaviour for both the players and umpires as the rule was implemented.