Contrast in application following Rule change

Rules of Hockey.

The permit to play the ball at above shoulder height opened a flood-gate of other Rule abuse because the only restriction was (is)  that players should not play or play at the ball in a dangerous way – and a dangerous way is left to the judgement of umpires, who have already been advised to “forget lifted” when the ball is raised with a hit. That they are also told to “think danger” (what’s danger?) (but not advised to consider disadvantage to opponents following an illegal action) is something of a joke.

The hit raised into the circle by the BEL attacker was a foul (it was clearly intentionally raised), as was the contest for the falling ball by the second BEL player who was not in a position to be the initial receiver at the time the ball was raised (the goalkeeper was).

In the next incident shown in the clip the attacker passes and raises the ball across the face of the goal with a reverse edge hit – that is not a shot at the goal – so an illegal hit.

The promise made by the Hockey Rules Board in 1997, when the Offside Rule was finally deleted, that measures would be put in place to restrain the actions of attackers when close to the goal was completely forgotten – in fact reversed.

I have five suggestions for Rule change to reduce incidents of a dangerously played ball.

The interception of a shot at goal by a player of the shooter’s team will convert what was a shot into a pass – and if raised too high with a hit (during a penalty corner) an illegally raised hit. This also means that if the intercepting player shoots at the goal, the first hit restriction applies (and deflections in such circumstances must be treated as hits). The hard low hit or push at goal during a penalty corner which is deflected by a second attacker high into the goal, usually from within 5m is a circumvention of dangerous play Rules and is clearly too dangerous to defenders to be allowed to continue without control.

2) Playing at the ball at above shoulder height when in the opponent’s circle to be prohibited.

3) A height limit (120cms / 4′ / sternum height) on any ball propelled towards an opposing player from beyond 5m (especially in a competitive situation) at high velocity (a velocity that could injury a player hit).

4) The absurdity of contesting for a falling ball being considered dangerous play when contesting for a rising ball (played at in the same way and at the same height) is seldom considered dangerous play (or even play leading to dangerous play) to be changed.

5) Raising the ball into the circle with a hit prohibited except in the case of a dink hit by a dribbler evading an opponent when the dribbler retains immediate possession of the ball.

Then we continue to allow players to play at the ball at above shoulder height (outside the opponent’s circle) because appropriate restrains are in place.

The above list may not be complete, it may be necessary to curtail flicks and scoops being raised high into the opposing circle, but that possibility needs further thought – maybe a height limit?

Edit. The list above is not complete I overlooked my suggested replacement for the Rule prohibiting an intentionally raised hit, that is not a shot at the goal taken from within the opponents circle:-

6) In addition to the height limit on a ball raised towards an opposing player, an absolute height limit (of shoulder height) on any ball raise with a hit – even into clear space. This is not tied to the concept of a dangerously played ball, it’s simply a height limit to prevent the long chip or clip hits, common in the 1980’s that the prohibition on the intentionally raised hit was supposed to eliminate. Those clip and chip hits have now been replaced with reverse edge hits used to ‘clear’ the ball over the heads of opponents. On occasion, as we have seen recently with the broken jaw of a Malaysian International player, a miss-hit ‘clearance’ can result in serious injury.

I have not planned the writing of this article very well because I find I need to add a seventh suggestion, again one I have made many times before:-

7) When a Self-pass is taken quickly – that is before opponents have been given sufficient opportunity to retreat to get to be 5m from the ball, and they are trying to so retreat – normal play will resume as soon as the taker moves the ball from its stationary position (see article on Second Whistle to ensure a stationary ball) This does away with a raft of 5m restrictions and exceptions. It also renders unnecessary the prohibition on playing a free ball, awarded in the opponent’s 23m, being played directly into the opponent’s circle.  The only two 5m requirements necessary are 1) that opponents get to be 5m from the place a free ball is awarded as rapidly as is reasonably possible and 2) the placement for a free ball, when a defender’s offence occurs between the shooting circle and the hash circle, will be just outside the hash circle opposite to where the offence occurred. (This is the only 5m requirement put in place since 2009 that the FIH Rules Committee have – for an unknown reason – deleted, but it was the only one enacted in 2009 that made good sense).

The taking of a Self-Pass before opponents have been given opportunity to comply with the 5m distancing requirement will be seen as the playing of advantage (Why else but to gain advantage would a player taking a free ball take it before opponents had complied with Rule requirements?) Defenders who do not attempt to retreat and who then interfere with the play of the taker should be carded (I would like to see restored as a taker’s option the Upto10 in these circumstances, but as an Upto25 with no restriction on the direction of the Upto25m as this would render obsolete the idea of a ‘safe’ place to deliberately give away a free ball.) The free could be taken anywhere within 25m of the place of the offence.

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