I watched the first game of the 2011 AFL season last night. It was the first time that the new Substitute rule was put to the test. A quick Google search this morning provided many news articles saying that it was a failure.
I’m still undecided about this substitute rule. It certainly makes it more difficult on the coach, and combined with the new concussion rule, we will get cases like last night when someone was forced off the ground for a possible concussion, only to be discovered to be fine a few minutes later.
However, the main reason for the rule is to make football more sustainable. The AFL hope that by making fewer interchange players available, the pace of the game will slow down, and the number of high impact injuries will reduce.
I also believe that this new rule will open up a new position in the team that can extend the life of an AFL player – the Professional Substitute.
Think about a player such as a Chris Judd, or similar – one who is an extremely good player, but is coming towards the end of their playing life. It may not happen this year for Chris, or even for this position, but if this rule stays, I could fully expect some older players deciding to play on as the professional substitute. Their body may no longer be able stand up to four quarters of AFL footy, but they may still want to play. A professional substitute would stay with the team, knowing that they may only play a half, a quarter or even not at all that week. This helps sustain their playing career, while giving the coach a quality player who can come on and play in any role on the field.
Having a player who is brilliant on the substitute position would make the decision to bring them on not so difficult. It’s going to be difficult to have someone who is excellent in all areas, but having a player who is brilliant will increase the possibilities of this position, and knowing that they will be a professional substitute, they can practice all areas of the game to be proficient in whatever position they will be played in.
What are your thoughts on this controversial new rule?