IN the last number of years the rules of GAA, mainly football, have changed considerably and it always leads to much debate.
Some will feel the changes have been for the better, things like the mark and advanced mark, and kick-out, whilst others will feel they are only confusing.
One that has definitely had an impact on games has been the sin-bin rule, but should this and other rules be looked at? For instance, should the GAA look to hockey and some of the rules they, and other sports have, to improve the game? Changing rules is never easy and takes a lot of consideration but one that should be seriously looked at is the clock and like ladies football, take it out of the hands of the referee.
It works well in other sports like rugby and it takes some of the pressure off the ref, who has plenty to keep him busy during a game.
At inter-county championship level at the very least, this is one change that should be looked at and like ladies football, hockey, rugby, basketball and other sports it has been a huge success.
It ensures the ‘added time’ at the end of a game is fair and would help stop some of the ‘added, added time’ that causes confusion for players, managers and fans alike.
In hockey, a technical bench controls the clock and like rugby, a simple raising of the hand and and ‘time off/on’ from the ref stops or starts it so it’s easy to ensure timing is accurate.
In hockey, because of the speed of games, there are two umpires (refs) — one on each half of the pitch. Should we be looking to have two refs, in hurling in particular?
I would not be in favour of doing so but should we increase the roles of linesmen and give them more powers to help the ref. Same could be said for the umpires.
At present all have limited powers during a match and maybe these could be increased to help the referee.
In hockey, the two umpires are in constant communication during a game and they will confer on any major decision.
Would a second ref help in this regard in GAA? Probably not, but the powers of linesmen and umpires should be increased to help the man in the middle.
Small changes here could do a lot to improve both codes and maybe do away with some of the cynical fouling or off the ball incidents that are creeping more and more into games.
One well worth looking at is the yellow card and the sin-bin. In GAA two yellow cards and you are off.
In hockey, you can receive two yellow cards, serve the 10 minutes in the sin-bin on both occasions and return to the pitch.
They do this under what they term personal or technical fouls. Sounds complicated but it is far easier than it sounds.
In GAA what would be termed a personal foul would be ones on players, like the pulling to ground, etc, and the range could be increased if desired.
Technical fouls are ones where players have a ‘few words’ with officials that they end up being carded for.
In the heat of a championship battle, this is bound to happen, but it can have disastrous results for a team if that player is already on a yellow card. But in hockey, he gets the chance to calm down with the 10 minutes in the bin and return to the pitch.
Again this is where the technical bench comes in as they keep an eye on this to help the officials, a role the fourth official could take on in hurling and football.
But hockey goes a step further with the technical foul and one that a lot of refs would probably agree with.
If the sideline are deemed to be abusing officials to an unacceptable level then they are warned by the technical bench (fourth official currently does this a bit in GAA) about their behaviour. If it continues the ref can call the captain and warn him about his sidelines behaviour.
At this point, the captain tells them to calm down and if they don’t he gets sin-binned for 10 minutes.
A rule that might calm down some of the abuse officials receive at present and if asked one change that refs would probably favour.
So instead of making change for the sake of change maybe it’s time to take stock, look at other sports and take the best of their rules and only implement them when all interested parties are happy.