Advantage and Ball Body Contact



I have taken down my article Advantage and Misunderstanding, because I made the assertion in it that it is not possible to allow advantage to be played unless there has been an offence by an opponent (which was at one time undoubtedly true, but is probably not true now or not demonstrably so).

I can’t now argue (given the wording of Rule Proper 9.11) that advantage cannot be allowed to an opponent of a player following that player’s breach of Rule 9.11 when it is not an offence – although I would like to. What I need to argue is that there should be no distinction made between a breach of Rule and an offence – the criteria should be the same – creating a distinction between a breach and an offence merely created more confusion in two, already confused, groups of participants.

When neither of the current criteria for offence are met during a ball-body contact there should be no violation called and play should just continue (but, I would change the criteria for offence to something very different, see suggested Rule rewrite link below). I think it absurd that defenders are often more focused on avoiding being hit with the ball (because they are usually penalised for being hit) than they are on making a tackle for the ball, and attackers are often more focused on winning a penalty corner  by ‘attacking’ with the ball the legs of a defender (which should be a foul), than they are on trying to make space for a clear shot or pass. The alternative tactic to shoot towards the goal (usually at maximum power and with a raised ball irrespective of the positioning of defenders, in the expectation that if a defender ‘in the way’ is hit with the ball that defender will always be penalised), makes a nonsense of the Dangerous Play Rule and the supposed “Emphasis on safety”.

I am not happy that Rule 9.11 ball-body contact and the Explanation of Application given with it create a difference between a breach of Rule and an offence which applies in only this Rule, nor am I content with the wording of the disruptive advice in Umpiring 2.2a because it make a nonsense of the Advantage Rule.

Umpiring 2.2a   it is not necessary for every offence to be penalised when no benefit is gained by the offender; etc.

(Given:- that a ball-body contact offence requires either intent to use the body to stop or deflect the ball – a very rare occurrence – or for there to be advantage gained because of ball-body contact – 2.2a however, specifically excludes advantage (benefit) gained)

It would more logically be put “ it is not necessary for every ball-body contact to be penalised…even if that duplicates what is given with Rule 9.11. and would require a separate statement for other offences. (The present wording I think illustrates the current undeclared attitude to ball-body contact, that it is either usually or almost always considered to be an offence – or, more accurately, called as an offence without any consideration of criteria or any reasoning at all)

I need to think some more about the Advantage Rule (12.1) aspect of this problem but my belief is that a return to the previous clarity of offence and no offence would aid understanding and correct application of both Rule 9.11 and Rule 12.1. This would require a realignment of the Rule Proper and Explanation of Application within Rule 9.11 ball body contact, so that they are not conflicting, but supporting statements: in fact the Rule Proper needs to contain the criteria presently given in the Explanation of Application. Both the present criteria for offence have at one time or another been written into the Rule Proper and there is no good reason why they should not now be both included at the same time.

For example:-

Field players must not intentionally or in a way that gives an unfair advantage to themselves or their team, stop, deflect, propel, kick, pick up, throw or carry the ball with any part of their body.

What constitutes an (unfair) advantage gained is another murky area. The present attitude is not far away from “Any ball-body contact will gain an advantage for the team of the player hit” (I have heard umpires agree that among themselves, those in that agreement obviously did not care how the Rule was written or presented, they were simply going to penalise all ball-body contact)

I have some upsetting ideas for those simple people, in a suggested rewrite of Rule 9.11 (link below).

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