That's a Free Kick! Isn't it?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

During an enthralling contest between Essendon and Sydney last weekend, Sydney champion Adam Goodes punched a ball over Essendon’s goal line from a bounce at the top of the Essendon goal square following a teammate overstepping the line when bringing the ball back into play after a behind only moments earlier. 

Goodes was penalised under Law 15.7.1 that states that a free kick shall be awarded against a player from the defending team who intentionally forces the football over the attacking team’s goal line. 

Goodes admitted his error.  “I have probably been told it [was not allowed under the laws] a lot of times during when we have met with the umpires. I won't be doing that ever again” he explained.

Similar scenes are repeated at community football every weekend where confusion can reign over certain laws.  One such scenario, relating to deliberate out of bounds from a kick in, has been raised on several occasions.

The query revolves around the following scenario:

A behind has been scored and the player bringing the ball back into play decides to kick it to themself.  The umpire calls play on and the player’s next kick goes out of bounds without another player touching the ball.  Is it a boundary throw in or a free kick?

To answer this refer to the Laws of Australian Football 2011: 

13. Kicking the Football in to Play After a Behind Has Been Scored

13.1 Football Must be Kicked

Unless Law 12.4 applies, when a Behind has been recorded, the following shall apply:

  1. the football must be Kicked back into play by any Player of the defending Team within a reasonable time;
  2. the football must be Kicked from within the Goal Square. For the avoidance of doubt, one foot of the Player must be behind any of the lines which define the Goal Square at the time when the Player Kicks the football;
  3. Other than the Player kicking the football into play, all Players must immediately vacate the area within 5 metres of the Goal Square.
  4. the Player Kicking the football into play may, provided they have Kicked the football clear from their hands, regain possession and play on from within the Goal Square.
     

Clearly the player is able to play on from within the goal square provided they have kicked the ball clear of their hands and regained possession. 

As an aside, it is worth noting that if a player, after being given a reasonable opportunity to kick the ball back into play, is called to “play on” they still must dispose of the ball according to 13.1(2) or 13.1(4) whilst the opposing players may enter the goal square and tackle the player with the football. 

However, is it a boundary throw in or a free kick when the player has kicked the ball to themself and with the next kick the ball has gone out of bounds without another player touching the ball?

What does the law book say?

15.6 Free Kicks — Relating to Out of Bounds

15.6.1 When Awarded

A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player who:

  1. Kicks the football Out of Bounds on the Full;
  2. in the act of bringing the football back into play after a Behind has been scored, Kicks the football over the Boundary Line without the football first being touched by another Player;

In the scenario we are referring to, although the ball has not been touched by another player, a boundary throw in should result as the player has already brought the ball back into play by kicking the ball to themselves.  Once the player kicks the football clear from their hands, regains possession and plays on from within the Goal Square the ball is in general play.

In regard to law 15.6.1, as the player has previously brought the ball back into play - by kicking to himself – and therefore this law no longer applies.

Umpires often picture scenarios like this and ensure that they understand the laws that relate to any given situation.  On match day it is important that umpires know all the laws and apply them correctly. 

Cameron, 13-08-11 20:32:
I agree with the explainations in this situation however if there's no players around when the ball is kicked out of bounds it could be said that the player has kicked the ball out of bounds intentionally.

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