'Ump bump' penalty severity questioned - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Ump bump' penalty severity questioned

By Laine Clark 10/04/2009 06:18:41 PM Comments (0)

Just days after teammate Brett Kirk became embroiled in the AFL's "ump bump" crackdown, Sydney forward Ryan O'Keefe questioned the severity of punishment for players making contact with officials.

"Sometimes the punishment doesn't fit the crime," he said ahead of Sydney's AFL clash with Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.

O'Keefe said collisions with umpires were sometimes inevitable due to the speed of the game and claimed Swans players still thought the ruling on making contact with an official was a "grey area".

Sydney sought clarification this week from AFL umpires boss Jeff Gieschen about the "ump bump" after co-captain Kirk escaped suspension but incurred 93.75 points for colliding with umpire Matthew James last Saturday.

Sydney assistant John Longmire on Friday said they were now aware that a player ran the risk of being found reckless if he lined up not only behind an official during a bounce, but also one metre either side of an umpire.

But O'Keefe did not sound any more enlightened.

Asked if Swans players thought the "ump bump" ruling was a grey area, O'Keefe said: "I think it is a little bit.

"I don't think any player wants to go out there and do it (run into an umpire).

"Because of the speed of the game sometimes collisions are going to be inevitable - it's a little bit hard (to avoid them)."

Asked what his solution was, O'Keefe laughed: "You've just got to try and not run into the umpire."

Longmire conceded it was an issue that "players need to be aware of".

And coaches as well it seems.

Rival coach, Lions mentor Michael Voss said he needed more clarification over the ruling.

Voss also kept his fingers crossed that the crackdown did not cost a team victory.

"Obviously there's some clarification additionally that might be needed," he said.

"It's never ideal if potentially you lose a player (over it).

"(And) you just never want to be in the situation where it might cost the game.

"But we are mindful of the fact that the umpires have to do their job properly.

"They (AFL) want to crack down on it and we fully support it."

Voss appeared to back O'Keefe's call that some collisions were inevitable.

"The game can go in any direction and in certain circumstances there are going to be collisions from time to time," he said.

"You just hope to minimise the impact with the umpire because they are out to do a job too."

But Voss could not empathise with Collingwood's Heath Shaw who was reported for the serious offence of interfering with an umpire in their loss to Geelong on Thursday night.

Shaw was booked for placing a hand on the official's shoulder after a free kick early in the second quarter.

"I have played this game for a long time and even from four years of age it's quite clearly stated that you don't touch the umpire," Voss said.

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