AFL refutes Blues coach's claims of new rule interpretation

THE AFL has strongly refuted Carlton AFLW coach Daniel Harford's post-match claims on Saturday night that there was a new rule interpretation introduced ahead of this weekend's games. 

Harford alleged a conversation with the umpires just before his team's clash with Collingwood alerted him to a 2m buffer zone the offending player must keep in the advancement of a 50m penalty. 

The player with the ball, as part of the new rules announced in October, can now play on while the 50m penalty is being measured out in the AFL and AFLW. 

AFL.com.au understands the buffer zone was always in place.

AFLW Match Highlights: Carlton v Collingwood

05:02 Mar 2. 2019. 9:02 PM

The Blues and Magpies clash in round 5 of the AFLW

An AFL spokesperson confirmed there was no rule change this week and said the League provided fortnightly updates to each AFLW club that included trends, observations and rule education and clarification. 

The most recent update, issued on Wednesday, February 27 for rounds three and four, centred on the defensive player's role during the advancement of a 50m penalty. 

The offending player and their teammates cannot impede the attacking player's ability to play on in any direction in this situation.

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The AFL spoke to both the Blues and Pies on Sunday, after Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman – who was unaware of any potential change – also became involved in the issue during his press conference. 

Both clubs declined to comment further. 

An "annoyed" Harford, who played 162 AFL games for Hawthorn and Carlton, said the AFL had not communicated any rule interpretation or change until his pre-match exchange with the umpires. 

"When the umpires came into the room to have a chat to us about the game, they remarked about the new interpretation. I said, 'What are you talking about?' " Harford said.

"That was something we'll bring up with the umpiring department. We'd like to know a touch earlier than half an hour before the game.

"The player who is on the mark has to get goal-side of the player running forward with the ball, but there is a buffer zone of 2m, which is now official, that hadn't been official up until then, to my understanding. 

"They changed it, or altered it, the interpretation. We told the girls prior to the game." 

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The offending player can get one of their teammates further afield to man the mark if they are unable to legally remain goal-side of the attacking player.

Siekman, after being alerted to Harford's comments, said: "If they've put that in place; that's pretty poor not to let the other competing side know. But no, no one said (anything) to us."

Meanwhile, lighting was an issue again at the match venue, Ikon Park, with one light tower going out on several occasions in a pocket at the club administration end of the ground.

Poor lighting was a problem at the ground last year, with Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich critical of the situation at the time. 

Carlton captain Brianna Davey said it was noticeable, while Collingwood player Sarah Rowe said it hadn't affected her. 

"It got a bit dark in that little pocket there, but it's out of our control and there's not much we can do about it. So you just get on with it," Davey said.

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