Magpie Scott Pendlebury plays on to advantage and kicks a goal only to be called back by an incorrect umpire decision.

The Advantage Law

The AFL Umpiring Department has reiterated how umpires should apply the Advantage Law.

After an incorrect decision involving Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury during the recent game between Collingwood and the Geelong Cats, AFL Umpiring Manager Jeff Gieschen wrote to all AFL clubs to confirm how the rule should be applied.

He said the umpire blew time-on too quickly, and did not allow Pendlebury to take advantage of a free to teammate Cameron Wood.

The incident

A free kick was paid to Cameron Wood of Collingwood for high contact from his opponent Brad Ottens in a ruck contest.

Scott Pendlebury elected to take the "advantage" and kicked a goal which was subsequently disallowed by the field umpire.

The goal should have stood because Pendlebury continued to play the ball, and under the new interpretation where "advantage" is now determined by the player, his actions were perfectly legitimate

The guidelines

Tthe umpire is instructed to blow his whistle to indicate to all that a free kick has been awarded. The umpire will then observe whether a member of the infringed player’s team elects to:

  1. Stop immediately upon hearing the whistle to indicate he does not wish to take advantage (this may be done by the player immediately stopping or by putting his hand up to indicate he does not wish to take the advantage).
  2. Continue to play in a manner which indicates he is taking the "advantage" (a player does not have to be in possession of the ball to indicate that he intends to take advantage).

NB. It is important to remember that under the new interpretation for 2011 it is the player and not the umpire who initiates the "advantage" play. It is also very important that players make a decision immediately as to whether they wish to take the advantage, or stop and indicate they do not wish to take the advantage.

Once the player has taken the advantage, causing the umpire to signal and call the advantage, the umpire is not in a position to cancel that "advantage" call.

When implementing this interpretation umpires have been instructed to communicate in the following manner:

  • Blow the whistle to indicate a free kick has been awarded
  • Communicate which team is it to receive the free kick, e.g. "Free kick, Collingwood"
  • If a player from that team (Pendlebury) doesn’t stop or signal he doesn’t want to take the advantage, the umpire will follow up by calling "Advantage. Advantage," and also indicate this by waving his arm
  • If the player from that team (Pendlebury) elects not to take "advantage" by immediately stopping or signalling to indicate he wishes not to take advantage the umpire will ensure the ball is returned to the original recipient of the free kick (Wood)
  • The umpire may then if time permits clarify the reason for the free kick by saying. "Cameron Wood, contacted high by Ottens in the ruck contest" while at the same time signalling a high tackle
In summary
  1. Players need to be reminded that the whistle is an indication that a free kick has been awarded, however play will continue if any other player from the infringed player's team decides to play to "advantage".
  2. Players need to make a quick decision to either elect or not elect to play to "advantage" by their actions (continue to play or stop).
  3. Players who have any doubt or are unsure whether the awarded free kick is to or against his team need to be reminded that if they continue and dispose of the ball they run the risk of having a 50m penalty awarded against their team if in fact the free kick has been awarded to the opposing team.
Greg Cudmore, 03-07-11 20:23:
In theory the rule seems reasonable. In practice umpires are between a rock and a hard place. Players often do not know ỏr understand the rule. At community football level it hás proved problematic and I believe we should revert to the old advantage rule.

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