Recent injuries to rucks Brodie Grundy and Marc Pittonet have reignited calls to scrap the historic centre bounce.
Speaking on Nine’s Footy Classified, Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd suggested only bouncing the ball to begin each quarter before allowing the field umpire to throw the ball up.
“Would we lose much if we just had the first bounce of every quarter and that was it?” he said.
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“Would anyone care? Would anyone even notice that it’s happening after a month or two of footy?
“The odd traditionalist might, but I think we’d get on with it.”
Former AFL coach Ross Lyon said he was exasperated with the debate after 10 years of going back and forth on the issue.
“We’re all sick of it,” he said.
“Just throw it up.”
Adding to the debate, senior columnist Caroline Wilson raised the AFL’s nationwide umpire shortage, saying that abolishing the bounce could encourage more women to feel comfortable officiating.
Wilson added that the formality was causing umpires immense stress and damage to their backs because of the practice required during the week.
Contrastingly, The Age journalist Sam McClure indulged the idea that the centre bounce may not be the single cause of a recent spate of knee injuries to players in the ruck.
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“The irony with this whole conversation is do we actually know what’s causing the injury?” he asked.
“We had Gerard Healy on (3AW’s) Sportsday, (he) was wondering whether throwing it up and it always being straight means there’s more chance of knee on knee.
“We had Ellie Blackburn on the show, who was saying, you couldn’t let bounces go if they went parallel.”
Lyon added that the lack of jostling in the modern game was encouraging the knee on knee contact in the ruck and the force to cause injury.
“Ruckmen used to be able to launch and jump in, and use their arm,” Lyon said.
“They’re big men – 110kg to 120km men – the only impact that can be met is knee on knee and it’s not healthy.”
“There was more skill to it then, than there is now,” added Lloyd.
“Now, because the umpires are like, ‘you took his space’, ‘you put your arm out’, it’s just pretty much two bulls going at it in the paddock.”
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McClure concluded that the league game was still a long way off making a final decision on the bounce.
However, Wilson was a lot more certain of its future.
“The bounce will go,” she said.
“At the very least it will only start quarters. … I think it will.”
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