AFL umpire Luke Farmer practises a centre bounce.
AFL umpire Luke Farmer practises a centre bounce. Will Russell/AFL Media

AFL great slams centre bounce 'whingers'

AFL LEGEND Kevin Bartlett has slammed calls for the league to scrap the centre bounce.

Umpires coach Hayden Kennedy put the future of the bounce back on the agenda on Tuesday night by declaring there's "no benefit" to keeping it in the game.

In 2013 the league introduced a rule change to remove the bounce from around the ground ball-ups, with umpires instead instructing umpires to simply throw the ball up.

Bartlett, who played 403 career games, gave a passionate plea for the AFL to keep the bounce rather than introducing what he labelled a "basketball tip-off".

"Let's get one thing straight, we should never have got rid of the bounce at all around the ground in the first place," he said on SEN.

"The bounce is unique to our game, a game like no other on the planet, an indigenous game.

"It gave ruck work a skill with the oval ball that sometimes went off centre and at different heights, for ruck work once was an art form of the game.

"Now, they want a basketball tip-off to start our great game.

"Let's take all things that are unique to our game and replace them with aspects of other sports.

"We brag about having the greatest game in the world for over 100 years, now they want to turn it into some hybrid game for the whingers."

Star Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn was the first player to voice his opinion on the future of the bounce, tweeting "#keepthebounce".

St Kilda's Tom Hickey also tweeted the same hashtag.

In defending the bounce Bartlett also said the AFL should not force umpires to recall their bounce should it not go straight up in the air.

"We shouldn't be recalling the ball from a crooked bounce at all, which the umpires say puts pressure on them because they didn't bounce straight," he said.

"It should be if the ball goes off centre, play on, like it was until some sooked because an odd, crooked bounce gave the opposition a perceived advantage.

"Tell that to Stephen Milne who didn't get the rub of the green in the (2010) grand final."


Legendary Richmond player Kevin Bartlett.
Legendary Richmond player Kevin Bartlett. JOE CASTRO

Kennedy, the umpiring games-record holder, believes the removal of the bounce will ensure good umpires aren't lost to the game because they can't bounce the ball.

He wants to see the ball thrown up at all times to ensure an even contest.

"(For) the game, in my opinion anyway, there's really no benefit," Kennedy told 3AW radio.

"I think by throwing it up and creating an even contest on all occasions is probably the best way for us to go.

"We don't want to stop good umpires coming through because they can't bounce or they don't bounce currently at the community level.

"If (umpires) can't bounce well - male or female - we don't want to exclude them if they're really good umpires and really good decision-makers."

Kennedy umpired a record 495 VFL/AFL games during his career but revealed hamstring issues forced him into retirement.

After a spate of injuries suffered by umpires late last season, the centre bounce is seen as a major contributor due to the amount of practice needed to master the bounce.

"To get that skill right, it's a really demanding and dynamic movement," he said.

"We have got an older list, so to do it for 15 or 20 years, and at the community level beforehand, it takes a fair toll on the body."

Kennedy said the AFL Umpires Association was looking to put forward a recommendation to the Laws of the Game Committee at its next meeting early in the premiership season.

News Corp Australia

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