Thank You Hawthorn

I was not a fan of the AFL rule change prohibiting the deliberate rushed behind. Not a fan at all. If I was in the front bar of Cramers in Preston I’d go so far as to exclaim to no-one in particular that it’s akin to social engineering as far as I’m concerned. It’s a nanny state solution to a non-existent problem. Years from now any number of doctorates and research grants will be given over to the phenomenon of the early decades of this millennium’s desire to modify behaviour to within an inch of our humanness. This rule change will be cited as an explain-all example. I’d say all that without drawing a breath and then I’d down a pot of Bitter.

In the AFL ‘Laws of Australian Football 2008’ the rule read, as follows – Scoring a Behind Law 12.1.2 (d): if a Player from the defending Team Kicks, Handballs, knocks or otherwise takes the football over the Goal Line or Behind Line. That’s pretty clear. Footy has been played for over 100 years. The rushed behind rule has been around since 1897. I don’t know how many games of footy that equals but I’m sure it’s a shit-load.  Its beauty and simplicity is that any team can use the rule to protect and defend as it sees fit.

However, in 2008, several games triggered an earthquake like tsunami at AFL Headquarters. Specifically, it was the 2008 Grand Final where the Mighty Hawks rushed 11 behinds that turned the tide. OMG, the sky is falling! The Russians are coming! The pub has no beer! Okay, that last example does warrant action but my point is this: the game can sustain being stretched and twisted. Its rules are solid. Sure they are not the laws of Physics but they hold together pretty good or well or enough. Rules such as the ‘rushed behind rule’ are part of the ecosystem that sustains the life blood and guts of the antipodeans way of life and, er, blood and stuff …

Now we are living in the post-rushed behind rule era and it feels, somehow, better. While it has taken a while (let’s call it years) I have finally come around. How could I not. The game has taken on a new life. It’s as if that rule change has seen the game evolve ever so exponentially. Week in and week out we now get to see greater, more imaginative, strategic defence. As an old half back flanker I am full of pride and admiration for my fellow back-men and the innovative ways they manage the ball out of tight spots with burly talls and shiny mid-fielders bearing down on them like the scavengers that they are.

As spectators, our breath is collectively held, when the red hot Sherrin, trapped in the pocket, inches towards goal. Like a close game needed any more tension. If a mid fielder is his hammies then a back-man is his heart. Without fear for his safety and or the goal line your team’s back-men and mine now have to find that precious inch and seconds that weren’t there to begin with. And they do. And the ball is across to the other pocket and looking for a lead down the ground. Back men have always taken the oath, defend the goal-line to the death, very seriously, but with the rushed behind rule a thing of the past it is as if it’s tattooed on their soul.

So, thank you Hawthorn on behalf of all footy fans and players (but not necessarily back-men with heart conditions). You have always tested the limits (of fitness and skills and now, rules). Yours is a team built on the belief that winning is everything. Sometimes it may not be pretty, but without your desire to go beyond what is the norm the rest of the clubs (hell, the game itself) could not, would not evolve. The rushed behind rule change will be seen as another Hawthorn legacy to this great sport.


About Rick Kane

Up in the mornin', out on the job Work like the devil for my pay But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do But roll around Heaven all day


  1. It’s a numbers game, Rick.

    With all the tinkering they do with the game, the AFL is likely to get the occasional one right.

  2. It’s alright for you Rick but we Cat supporters can’t be so circumspect about it.

    I bit of by play I would like to share with you.

    A Hawks supporter fronted me last weekend and said two in a row. I assume he was referring to the two straight losses the Cats had just had.

    I looked him in the eye and said no mate we’ve beaten you guys six in a row. He grunted and slipped away.

    I hope your daughter enjoyed those Freddo Frogs. You did give them to her….didn’t you?

  3. John Butler says

    Interesting interpretation there RK.

    One brown eye, one gold? :)

  4. Richard Naco says

    No brown eyes here, please.

    Kid hasn’t gone to bed yet.

  5. Rick Kane says

    JB, both eyes brown and gold stripes. Actually, that was my best attempt at objective journalism.

    Phantom, enjoy your winning streak. Stats 101 will tell you that sooner or later it’s gunna end in tears. By the way, I think you mean son or chip off the old block (trying to relate in a Tassie sort of way). By the way, again, I can neither confirm nor deny whether the Freedo transaction has been completed!


  6. Meanie

  7. Alovesupreme says

    I expected that in the face of Phantom’s tease, you’d draw sustenance from Kanga Kennedy’s immortal line “Every win brings you closer to your next loss.” Of course, the great man’s attittudes were no doubt imprinted by his playing experience in those far-off days when the Hawks were a chopping block.

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