THE AFL umpires department has contacted the coaches this week to clarify how the contentious rushed behind rule is being coached to umpires.
Confusion reigned after North Melbourne's Michael Firrito was penalised for rushing a behind in the opening minutes of last week’s clash with Port Adelaide, and umpires head coach Hayden Kennedy subsequently gave the decision the all clear.
While admitting Firrito was under pressure as he was tackled by Charlie Dixon, Kennedy said it was the eight or nine metres the ball travelled over the line that led to it being called deliberate.
AFL football operations manager Mark Evans said on Friday that while there hadn't been an interpretation change with the rule, there needed to be clearer communication on what constituted a player being under pressure or not.
The League has held discussions with the Laws of the Game committee, and a review of the rule will take place at season's end.
"There has been no attempt to change the interpretation of the rule mid-year, but we accept that most of the reference to these free kicks have historically been about the player being under pressure or not, and greater communication on the other factors is needed," Evans said.
"We discussed this example, and the deliberate rushed behind law at yesterday’s Laws of the Game meeting. The law needs reviewing and we will do that at season’s end.
"For the remainder of the season the umpires will continue to be coached as (the rule currently is). It is rare to see a handball over the goal line from a decent distance out and a reminder to players that when making calls on deliberate rushed behinds umpires will assess the pressure applied, distance out and time and space to dispose of the ball should minimise any issues from here."
15.7.1 Deliberate Rushed Behind
A free kick shall be awarded against a player from the defending team who intentionally kicks, handballs or forces the football over the attacking team’s goal or behind line (or goal posts).
In assessing whether a free kick shall be awarded under this law, the field umpire shall give the benefit of the doubt to the defender.