Archive for ‘Third Party Obstruction’

April 21, 2019

Left behind and forgotten

The original Obstruction Rule was no more than a sentence which set out a prohibition on a tackler running between a player in possession of the ball and the ball (generally while attempting to tackle), but this idea was also combined with what was later called third party obstruction. There was no distinction made between these two forms of obstruction. No mention at all was made of a player in possession of the ball obstructing a tackler.

This is taken from the Rules of Hockey for 1976 but there had been no change for at least the previous twenty-five years:-

12.1 (j) A player shall not obstruct by running between an opponent and the ball or interpose himself or his stick as an obstruction.

This wording with only slight modification has been the Rule or has been tacked onto the end of the extant version of the Rule ever since. Below is the current version of that now final Rule clause:-

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this is third party or shadow obstruction). This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper) when a penalty corner is being taken.

It should be apparent that the current version also conflates all obstructions; there is no clear distinction made between third party obstruction and any other sort of obstruction. This could very easily be addressed by moving the existing word “also” and adding the words “may … be’ to either side of it in a new position and by adding the word “also” to the last sentence. This could be done in much the same way that the word “also” was in 2019 added to Rule 9.8. It would then read:-

A player who runs in front of or blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing (this may also be third-party obstruction).

This also applies if an attacker runs across or blocks defenders (including the goalkeeper) when a penalty corner is being taken.

The current version of the Obstruction Rule does acknowledge the existence of obstruction by a player in possession of the ball even if the modern umpire very seldom does. In the picture below the PIP who is facing the left side-line, is sidestepping towards his own goal while shielding the ball to block off the defender and prevent a tackle attempt, this is contrary to Rule.

A player who blocks an opponent to stop them legitimately playing or attempting to play the ball is obstructing.

in other words the prevention of a tackle attempt by blocking off an opponent from the ball, is an illegal action. Play here continued without penalty. Even the defending players don’t seem to be aware that an obstructive offence has been committed by the ball holder. Would the PIP do this if he knew it was an offence that would be penalised? Strange isn’t it? Player are obliged to know and abide by the Rules: all participants are, that includes umpires. What is preventing participants knowing the Rules and more importantly, abiding by them? It seems to be the FIH Umpiring Committee via their coaching staff, even if the UMB which is issued by the FIH UC mentions tackle prevention in this badly worded (active movement ?) (professional ?) advice:-

• Is there active movement to prevent the playing of the ball?
• Be aware of professional use of the body to illegally block opponents from the ball

All games are defined by the Rules they are played to. The players in the picture below might be playing a game called stick-ball, or something similar to hurling but with a hockey stick and ball (so not hurling). They are not playing field-hockey even if most of the skills employed in the play are similar to those of field-hockey, because a fundamental Rule of field-hockey is being ignored by all – officials as well as players.

Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

https://martinzigzag.com/2015/10/31/rewrite-rule-9-12-obstruction/