Discouraging third man up is discouraging mediocrity

I can’t see all the fuss about the new ruck rule really. As a ruckman I say it’s a great rule and one that should’ve been brought in many years ago.

Nothing used to irritate me more than positioning yourself in the perfect position, outbody your opponent, get yourself under the ball only to have a moron teammate jump up and punch the ball directly to no-one, or to an opponent one-out off the contest only to clear it away easily. Annoyed me even more when coaches took clearances stats when this happened!

Or worse still, having the same moron teammate go up only to stick his knees in your ribs rather than your opponent. Hurting the cartilage in your ribs is one of the more painful injuries you can sustain.

Dominant ruckmen (I was far from one!) don’t need a third man up because their teammates know the best outcome is to stay at ground level and trust in their big man to do what he was picked to do in the first place- give first use to a little man.

Teams that employ the third man up tactic do it to protect a weak ruckman to negate a dominant one. The only time I ever encouraged a teammate to come up as a third man up was when I was outmuscled and beaten.

Over the years the ruck position has probably seen more tinkering than any other and usually for the worse. Being a metre apart, the bigger centre circle etc… all rules to restrict them plying their trade.

Finally we have a ruck change rule we can embrace because it stops teams from protecting mediocrity. Instead of trying to get away with recruiting athletes who can do a bit of rucking, teams have to start recruiting ruckmen who can actually ruck.

From now on instead of seeing a third bloke jumping up on the shoulders of a Todd Goldstein whilst he’s being wrestled by his direct opponent, we’ll start seeing teams countering dominant ruckmen by developing dominant ruckmen on their own.

Like the fist, the mark, the tackle, a well-timed tap is a skill that should be embraced and admired.  It’s a rough position and one where you can’t hide and that’s how it should be.

If a ruckman cannot be beaten, enjoy the dominance or develop someone who can.

Our game is great because it takes people of all shapes and sizes. Each task on the field requires a different skill set. Let ruckmen ruck, forwards mark, backmen punch and rovers rove.

Discouraging third man up is discouraging mediocrity.


  1. Ben Footner says

    Here here.

    As much as I hate the constant rule changes, I have long felt that the beautiful art of ruck work has been severely eroded over the last 10-15 years.

    Firstly it was the introduction of the ‘circle’ that limited the run and jump and made it almost purely about height. Then it was the sub rule that basically stopped teams running with 2 pure ruckmen. Then lately the old 3rd man up tactic with coaches throwing their tall/big bodied midfielders into the ruck contest like a bowling ball into a set of pins.

    Hopefully this will go some way towards allowing ruckmen to practice their art form again.

  2. Yep Jared. And much like Hawthorn with the rushed behind Geelong was exploiting it to the point where it forced the AFL to act. Blicavs was third man up 2-3 times a quarter last season – he was effectively a ruckman without the ability of an opponent to engage him. Fully support this change

  3. Ben Footner says

    Dangerfield another 3rd man-er. The Bont also at the Doggies.

  4. Nup disagree strongly,3rd man up is a skill of the game and helped clear the area as well as the brilliantly snapped goal,stupid enough to ban ruck man from grabbing the ball at ball ups or throw ins
    ( unless they disposed of it immediately) yet another totally unnecessary rule change which changes the fabric of the game

  5. Paul Spinks says

    I’m inclined to agree with this tinkering too, even though I’m also mostly against the constant rule changes – in fact I thought it had been outlawed once before – but maybe that was something to do with a designated ruck man.

    THE QUESTION HAS TO BE ASKED, THOUGH – does that mean Gazza’s sharking of a ruck contest in the ’89 grand final (and subsequent goal) would now be disallowed?

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