Edited 28th January 2013.
The introduction of the field hockey self pass threw up some issues during the experimental stage which were coped with on the spot during the Experiment Period by the introduction of what was seen to be a ‘common sense interpretation’ – an ‘interpretation’ which restricted the actions of any opponent who was with 5m of the ball when a self pass was taken.
I strongly disagree that such restrictions are an appropriate way of dealing with retreating defenders ‘caught’ within 5m of the ball when a self-pass is taken – but I have written about that elsewhere in this blog – this article is about the use by umpires of the advice given in the Umpire Manager’s Briefings for Umpires at FIH Tournaments (i.e International level hockey) to introduce Rule Guidance and even new Rule to the Rules of Hockey as ‘interpretation’.
I use here the briefing notes about the Free-Hit (which I always refer to as a free or a free-ball because the penalty is not necessarily executed with a hit) from the UMB as a recent example of this practice.
The Umpire Manager’s briefing for Umpires.
•All opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball
•For free hits awarded to the attack within their attacking 23 metre area -all players must be at least 5 metres from the ball
In all situations -if taken quickly and a player is within 5 metres of the ball but is not playing, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the taking of the free hit does not need to be delayed; this same player can play, attempt to play the ball or try to influence play, once the ball has travelled 5 metres –be consistent in your judgment of this.
•Attacking free hits awarded within 5 metres of the circle are taken back to the nearest point 5 metres from the circle.
The Rules of Hockey
Rule 13.2 Procedures for taking a free hit, centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field :
All parts of this Rule apply as appropriate to a free hit, centre pass and putting the ball back into play after it has been outside the field.
a the ball must be stationary
b opponents must be at least 5 metres from the ball
If an opponent is within 5 metres of the ball, they must not interfere with the taking of the free hit or must not play or attempt to play the ball. If this player is not playing the ball, attempting to play the ball or influencing play, the free hit need not be delayed.
c when a free hit is awarded to the attack within the 23 metres area, all players other than the player taking the free hit must be at least 5 metres from the ball
It will be noted that part of the advice given in the UMB has been highlighted (as it is in the current publication) and the highlighted part is a variation of the Rule Guidance given in the Rules of Hockey. In fact it is more than that because the Guidance in the Rules of Hockey is about action that could delay the taking of a free, but – because of the given Guidance – need not do so. The highlighted part (in the UMB) is about action that takes place after the free has been taken, an entirely different context. It perhaps raises the strange question “Is a free not taken until the taker has moved 5m with the ball – or alternatively, moved the ball 5m?” – This late revision has not been properly thought through.
The only legitimate ways to vary the Rules of Hockey, which includes the embedded Guidance, are by amendment to the published Rules of Hockey, which is a bi-annual publication, or by the issue of Rule Variation in FIH Tournament Regulations. The letter below explains when and where such variation may be used.
Extract from the above FIH document
FIH Tournament Regulations deal with the management and presentation of FIH world-level competitions. To enhance the profile of these competitions, Regulations are sometimes introduced which vary the Rules of Hockey. An example is that a Regulation currently specifies a green card indicates a two minute suspension whereas the Rules of Hockey specify a green card indicates a warning.
To encourage consistency in international hockey, such Regulations should be applied to all senior and under-21 international matches. However, the application of such Regulations to any other level of hockey is not endorsed by FIH. All other hockey should be played solely in accordance with the Rules of Hockey.
Appendix 9 contains the current Rules Variations to the Rules of Hockey.
There are no variations to Rule 13.2 Procedures for taking a free hit.
What the above means, when taken together, is that if the highlighted part of the Free Hits is regarded as Rule Guidance then the UMB is being used to circumvent correct procedure for the amendment of the Rules of Hockey, even at International level. In other words FIH Officials are not following the FIH’s own regulations. There is just no way that highlighted advice from the UMB could be said to legitimately apply to any hockey, never mind all hockey.
If this variation is to be incorporated into the Rules of Hockey (and I sincerely hope it will not be because I believe there are better alternatives) then that can only occur with the issue of the Rules of Hockey in 2013.(that didn’t happen, so now 2015) If it is to be introduced only at International level then a Rule Variation to that effect has to be included in the FIH Tournament Regulations – in the same way that the revised stick bow measuring device was added to them at the beginning of 2012. It’s odd that the rules Committee did not take the opportunity at that time to adjust the Guidance to the ‘Free Hit’ – maybe they don’t intend to.
The proposed changes to the Rules of Hockey for 2013-15 are now known, there is alteration to the free, it may now be directly lifted with any stroke except a hit (making the term Free Hit even more redundant) but there has been (sadly) no amendment to the procedure for taking or the 5m requirements connected with the self-pass.
“In the past, in addition to the Rules Interpretations included in the Rules Book, briefing papers have occasionally been prepared primarily for umpires at international tournaments. However, we all play the game by the same set of Rules so interpretations in the Rules Book should be as complete as possible. Additional papers should be unnecessary. Accordingly, Appendix B (Rules Interpretations) in this 2002 edition has been significantly revised. It now incorporates the other briefing papers referred to above. At the same time the layout and some parts of the text have been simplified.”
The Rulebook underwent reformatting and a major rewrite in 2004 and much of the text was stripped out. It was not seen as necessary to repeat the above reminder of the ‘status’ of ‘briefings vis a vis the Rules. That is unfortunate, but it is clear from the FIH letter referred to above (which was issued in 2010) that ‘briefings’ follow the Rules of Hockey not the other way about. Briefings cannot conflict with Rules embedded Rule Guidance of the Rules of Hockey and should not be used to create new and different Rule Guidance; they are for general advice and for the clarification of existing Rule and Rule Guidance.
The oft heard lament that “ ‘they’ are always changing the Rules” is not in fact the case, if ‘they’ is the FIH Rules Committee. But if ‘they’ are Umpire Coaches or individual umpires or groups of umpires, and that seems to so, then there are grounds for complaint. There is certainly cause for concern, but umpires at club level cannot be held to be responsible for confusion, when an UMB published by the FIH introduces variation to the Rules of Hockey without following the proper procedures and complying with the guidelines published by the FIH – especially when umpires are told on the FIH website that the UMB contains useful guidance for all umpires. It is even more worrying to see senior umpires and others writing on forums about “the latest interpretations” to come from this or that Tournament, especially when such ‘interpretations’ are personal opinion and/or invention without any Rule backing at all. The most pernicious of these to date is the declaration that a shot which is clearly towards the goal cannot be dangerous. which appeared ‘out of the blue’ in television commentary at the 2008 Olympics and was heard to be said to players by an umpire during the Women’s World Cup in 2010.
It would be helpful when referring to ‘The FIH‘ while discussing publications and authority, to distinguish between The FIH Executive , The FIH Rules Committee, The FIH Equipment Committee, and The FIH Umpring Committee.
The FIH Rules Committee have sole authority, granted by The FIH Executive, for the content of the published Rules of Hockey; the FIH Umpiring Committee advise on the coaching of umpires according to the Rules of Hockey, and to that end, are responsible for the content the UMB. The procedures for changes for rule and Rule Guidance are further explained here:-
This being particularly relevant:-
18. What is the procedure for developing a rules change?
ideas come from a variety of sources including players, coaches, umpires, the media, officials at events, and so on;
ideas either come through National Associations and other groups or are referred directly to the HRB
ideas are analysed and discussed in the Rules Committee usually over a period of time in two or three meetings;
if the change is a relatively minor one, the Rules Committee may then be able to recommend a change;
if a significant change is involved, further investigations will take place and a working group is set up to look at all the implications;
significant changes are progressed through trials and mandatory experiments
having received comment and advice, the Rules Committee will come to a conclusion;
it then prepares a report about proposed rules changes for the Executive Board of the FIH (which will also have sanctioned related trials and mandatory experiments if they have taken place);
the Executive Board will either agree the change or refer it back for further consideration by the Rules Committee; the Executive Board cannot directly amend a proposed change;
it does not happen often, but a change might then have immediate effect;
otherwise the change is incorporated in the next Rules Book.
19. When does a rules change become effective?
Officially the 1 January date applies to all international competitions but National Associations have discretion to decide the implementation date at national level.
20. Who is ultimately responsible for rules changes?
The Rules Committee comes to a conclusion about any changes it considers desirable and prepares a report for the Executive Board of the FIH. The Executive Board will either agree the change or refer it back for further consideration by the Rules Committee; the Executive Board cannot directly amend a proposed change. Thus the ultimate responsibility rests with the Executive Board.
Note: that not even the FIH Executive Board can directly amend a proposed change to the Rules of Hockey (Rule and Rule Guidance). It would therefore be impossible for the Umpiring Committee to amend Rule Guidance via a UMB even in ‘consultation’ with the Rules Committee (which seems to take the form of a chat with the Chairman of the Rules Committee in which s/he is told what the FIH Umpiring Committee is going to do).
The existence of Rule variation and new Rules in the European Hockey League, a Tournament for club teams, further complicates an already complicated situation. Someone needs to ‘gather the reins’.
Link to Index of Rules http://wp.me/p3tNmd-3