UMPIRE Hayden Gavine has delivered an insight into what will and won't constitute umpire abuse this season.
As one of the umpires officiating the fiery clash between Melbourne and Carlton in the AAMI Community Series, Gavine and his counterparts set the tone for the remainder of the weekend when it came to umpire dissent.
The reigning premiers copped the brunt of the new interpretation, giving away three 50-metre penalties last Thursday night, with only two more handed out in the remaining pre-season matches.
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One of those guilty players was Demons defender Adam Tomlinson – and it was Gavine who blew the whistle after an incident involving Blues forward Harry McKay.
"I went in to set the mark and (Tomlinson) asked me to look at the scoreboard and watch back the free kick," Gavine told AFL.com.au.
"At that stage I was like, 'Oh, he's not really pointing at the scoreboard, but he's sort of questioning my decision'.
"Then once he started watching the free kick replay on the scoreboard, he started laughing in my face and it was like, 'You’re belittling me a bit'. So then I paid the 50 for that."
Umpire Brett Rosebury – a veteran of 23 years, including nine Grand Finals – said he could understand the trepidation of fans when it came to the harsher interpretation.
But the 41-year-old also suggested players would adapt quickly to the change.
"I really think it comes down to having a conversation," he told AFL.com.au.
"Ask me a question, don't yell in my face, and don't wave your hands up and down in my face when you want to talk to me. Just talk normally.
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"We are still open to having conversations and providing feedback as long as it's done in the right way."
Gavine echoed those sentiments, pointing to an exchange with Carlton defender Zac Williams in the final stages of Carlton's five-point win.
"I paid a block with a minute to go in the game and he came up to me and he said, 'Can I just ask you a question?'," Gavine explained.
"I said, 'Yup, no worries'. And he said, 'Is it a free kick if my teammate goes back and contests the ball while looking at the football?'.
"And I said, 'Exactly how you explained that there, it's not a free kick. The way I saw it was your teammate went back and made contact with a Melbourne player without looking at the football and then decided to turn and contest the football, which constitutes a block'.
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"He looked at the big screen, saw the free kick, said, 'No worries', and walked off."
With the AFL facing a national shortage of 6,000 umpires, both Gavine and Rosebury welcomed the crackdown on umpire abuse.
They duo also encouraged potential recruits to head to umpire.afl to get involved.
"There’s frustration at times. We understand it can be emotional," Rosebury said.
"But it has to stay in check so we broadcast respect to the public. Being an umpire at any level, there needs to be respect for the role. But we do understand at times there can be frustration and emotion from the players, but we never think it’s personal."
In addition to Tomlinson, captain Max Gawn and forward Tom McDonald were penalised for umpire abuse, despite some suggestions Norm Smith medallist Christian Petracca was a culprit.
After Petracca gave away a free kick against Blue Matthew Kennedy, he rose to his feet and clenched his fists in frustration, but the AFL has confirmed the ensuing 50m penalty was paid against teammate McDonald for his demonstrative remonstration in the background.
Over the remaining eight games, only Richmond veteran Jack Riewoldt and Gold Coast youngster Noah Anderson infringed.