Does anyone know what the holding-the-ball rule is anymore?

A disastrous call was summed up in one line when umpire Rob Findlay blew his whistle, claiming holding the ball on Christian Petracca.

The call was wrong. It’s as simple as that. I don’t need a series of comments to go with this article to try and convince me otherwise.

But what really caught my eye was the conversation that took place between Findlay and Petracca.

Other than the sheer confusion of Petracca, the smirk of “I can’t believe I got that” from Toby Nankervis and even Dustin Martin listening in and wondering what on earth was that call, it was one line that infuriated me.

Findlay turned to Petracca and said: “There was no prior opportunity, but you didn’t make a genuine attempt. Those are the different rules”.

Christian Petracca

(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

So in the middle of a season and part way through an already revamped season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can just adjust rules? I have been a very strong advocate for many years against endless rule changes. You simply have to read some of my previous articles on The Roar to know this.

This takes the cake, though. I have never seen more genuine confusion in a player. All players around the ball had no idea what was happening.

Petracca must be sitting at home right now, nursing a sore head as a hard-bodied, big midfielder who now is wondering what he needs to change in his game.

Is this what we are going to see for the remainder of this season? I genuinely ask, does anyone know what the rule is now?

The AFL no longer has rules, it has interpretations. A hell of a lot of interpretations. The danger with interpretations is that it has nothing to hang its hat on. It is, as the word states, interpretation.

All 500-plus AFL players will interpret the rules differently. Our 30-plus field umpires will interpret the rule differently. Our general public, and I dare say the most important part of the AFL, will interpret the rule differently.

Sure, this will create great debate and discussion around the water cooler at work on a Monday morning. But we are not debating and discussing team performance or individuals as we should be doing.

No, we will be debating our interpretation to rules. I am so, so, so tired of discussing rules. For such a historical game well over 100 years old, I have never seen such constant discussion of rules.

We worry about players not getting on a plane to go into a hub to play and this could damage the AFL and the competition.

We are well and truly doing that and have been for many years.

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