For those interested in the Scott appointment just read a piece by McLure and Wilson published in the Age on Friday afternoon 16/9, which confirms that Scott is taking over responsibility for umpiring, match review etc as above.Putting to one side the issues raised by Hocking's (late) introduction of the stand rule and the predictable impact that had on Richmonds "chaos" game style, the thing that stands out about parachuting Brad Scott into the administration, is that he is moving into a position which will give him control over several of the most important areas of AFL activity, and that some of these have very poor internal process giving him enormous discretionary power.
The three that stand out to me in this regard are the Match Review arrangements, the Umpiring arrangements and the arrangements around free agency compensation. (There are undoubtedly others).
As I see it, it is a mess with the football director (FD), closely involved in the day to day administration of how rules are to be interpreted. The rules change or stay the same, but it is impossible to predict from match to match, little own season to season, what is appropriate and fair play, and what play is going to result in a penalty. The simple solution is that the administration of umpiring should proceed under the direction of the director of umpiring or the umpires coach, and without any involvement of other AFL personnel.
The rules committee review things from time to time but once the rules are written it should be left to the umpires to interpret them and to stick to a single hopefully consistent view, as to how to do so. The umpires are as a body perfectly competent to carry out this function. They should be allowed to get on with that job, without further input from the FD.
There will be inconsistency arising between umpires but that can be sorted out within the group, this without complicating what the rules actually mean with a further over lay of what the AFL would like the rules to be interpreted as meaning.
The fact that we regularly have an opinion from the FD as to whether a particular rule interpretation over the previous week was correct or not is a really good example of how the AFL has led the umpires into this mess. Simply put the AFL should seek to emphasise the independence of the umpiring function, and let them get on with it.
Under present arrangements the Match Review Officer Christiansen reviews the games and makes recommendations to the FD who then makes a final decision as to whether the charge and penalty, should or should not go ahead. As above the FD is wearing many hats and may allow his/her judgement on match review matters to be effected by those considerations. Some players and some clubs seem to be especially well looked after at match review while others do not. Providing Christiansen with the ability to proceed independently would take away this problem. As far. as I can see he is capable and able to carry out such work in a consistent manner. If he is unable to do so then the AFL may need to find another review officer, but IMO the fact that he may not be up to it doesn't warrant his decisions being subject to the whims of the FD.
No one knows how it works or who is responsible for its interpretation. There are clear examples of inconsistency in the past, which don't pass muster. (Motlop to PA is one which immediately comes to mind). And yet there is still no transparency. Surely the AFL can do better.