AFL urged not to axe runners - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL urged not to axe runners

By Guy Hand 23/06/2011 05:18:14 PM Comments (0)

AFL coaches have slammed suggestions that runners should be banned from the game permanently.

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has described the idea as "ridiculous" and says the AFL needs to "stop jumping at shadows" over minor issues in the game.

And Carlton coach Brett Ratten says runners - who relay coaches' messages to players on the field during matches - are a crucial communication tool and need to remain.

The issue of whether they should be banned was sparked by Western Bulldogs' runner Rohan Smith's antics during his side's clash with Adelaide last weekend.

Former player Smith spent several minutes lurking on the field barking out instructions to players - all the while miked up for match broadcaster the Seven Network.

Smith's actions have led to the AFL slapping the Bulldogs with a "please explain".

A decision on the matter is expected on Friday, and AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson has flagged the issue of axing runners for fans to decide at the end of the season.

Scott said Smith had clearly breached the rules, but said runners shouldn't be abolished as a result of one person's wrongdoing.

"(Banning runners) is a ridiculous notion based on one isolated incident," Scott said.

"I just wish we'd stop jumping at shadows with these minor incidents.

"I defy anyone who's grown up with AFL footy to suggest they go to matches and watch the runner or even notice the runner.

"It's such a minor issue and such a vital coaching tool."

Ratten said he would have huge concerns if runners were axed.

"Our ability to coach players ... we as coaches have six minutes at quarter time to talk to the group," he said.

"You talk about the team instructions and things like that.

"If we took the runners out of the game, how do we actually coach the players in-game to deal with different scenarios?"

Possible alternatives to runners include time-outs or relying on players to self-adjust when necessary.

Scott said both options were impractical for AFL - the only football code which uses runners.

"No one wants timeouts.

"Runners are still vitally important ... they need to ask the people who are actually in the coach's box.

"The runner is there to deliver a message but I think what should be highlighted is quite often I'll give the runner a message such as: `I want our backline to go one-on-one'.

"He can't run out and give that one message.

"He's got to get out to six individual players and give that message, so that can take time."

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