Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rules. 9.2., 9.3., 9.4., 9.13. Physical Contact

A suggested rewrite of the Rules of Hockey

Use of Stick.

Physical Contact

The current Rules.

9.2     Players on the field must hold their stick and not use it in a dangerous way.
          Players must not lift their stick over the heads of other players.

9.3     Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing.

9.4     Players must not intimidate or impede another player.

9.13   Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact.

Reckless play, such as sliding tackles and other overly physical challenges by field players, which take an opponent to ground and which have the potential to cause injury should attract appropriate match and personal penalties.

Action. Amalgamation and deletion.

Reason. Reduction and simplification.

This group of Rules has a great deal of duplication, Rule 3, Rule 4 and Rule 13 are very similar, Rule 13 being just a more specific instance of the type of offence, physical contact, being dealt with by Rule 9.3.

There are broadly three types of dangerous play; the dangerously played ball (the most common) dangerous use of the stick and dangerous physical contact . Whether it is best to deal with each of them under separate Rules or separately, in an umbrella Dangerous Play Rule, is a difficult question to answer, but physical contact is an offence even when it is not dangerous play, as is much illegal use of the stick. The present FIH approach is separate Rules.

I think that both of these previous versions of the Rule are framed in a better way than the present Rule 9.2.

(not) take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their sticks in their hand.

(not) use their sticks in a manner that is dangerous, intimidating or hampering

and they could usefully be edited and combined. This is from a time when the Rule 9.3 and Rule 9.4 were combined:-

(not) hit, hook, charge, kick, shove, trip, strike at or personally handle other players of their sticks or clothing.

Combination makes sense because physical contact during a tackle attempt will generally be stick-body or stick-stick contact or be both as well as body-body contact. Separation makes sense because dangerous use of the stick may not involve any physical contact not even with the stick of an opponent.  

There are  ‘forgotten’ i.e. unused Rules; intimidation (Rule.9.4) is either ignored as ‘not dangerous play’ or the intimidating action is penalised as dangerous play. So is the Rule containing this term required, when the only other term in it is ‘impeding’, which is either a physical contact or obstruction offence or possibly both? Probably not, so I will delete Rule 9.4.because it is redundant. Rule 9.3. and Rule.9.13 can be amalgamated as Rule 9.3. so a separate Rule.13. becomes redundant.

 

Players must not touch, handle or interfere with other players or their sticks or clothing. The meaning is clear enough, but the words used are not now the most appropriate. The words “interfere with” especially in the physical sense have become a euphemism for inappropriate or illegal sexual behaviour.  ‘Physical contact’ seems to be the clearest term and the words barge, push, pull, and hold could also be employed in the context.

 

Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact. I don’t like the wording of this Rule because of the way in which it is interpreted. There are two aspects.

1) The wording is better than it was previously because the Rule used to be couched in such a way that it could be interpreted to mean that physical contact with the stick or body of an opponent during a tackle was legitimate provided the ball was played prior to the physical contact. I think that view, once widely held, has almost disappeared following changes to the wording.

2) But now the Rule stumbles over the insertion of the word ‘position’. What is intended, the purpose of the Rule, is to prohibit any physical contact by a tackler with an opponent, who is in possession of the ball, while the tackler is attempting to tackle for the ball.

An interpretation, which I think is deviant, prohibits a tackle attempt being made without prior positioning which will make physical contact an impossibility – and in doing so makes an obstructive offence an impossibility; because it is very easy for a player who is shielding the ball to prevent an opponent positioning where he or she may play at the ball without there being any possibility of physical contact. The circle is completed when it is declared that obstruction by a player in possession of the ball cannot occur unless an opponent is attempting to play (tackle for) the ball and the meaning of the word ‘attempting’ is not defined – leaving it open to bizarre ‘interpretation’.

 

What is missing is a simple statement that field-hockey is a non-contact sport.

 

Suggestion.  

The four Rules become two.  Not ‘cast in iron’, useful comment and suggestions welcome.

 

Rule 9.2  Players on the field may not take part in or interfere with the game unless they have their sticks in their hand, they must not use the stick any way that may be intimidating of hindrance or dangerous to an opponent. 

The action of raising the stick over and across the head of another player is specifically forbidden as dangerous play.

Contesting with an opponent for possession of a falling ball is prohibited as dangerous play, one player, generally the player from the same team as the player who raised the ball,  must withdraw beyond playing reach of the ball in such situations and allow the opposing player to control the ball to ground..

Bouncing the ball on the stick at above knee height, while running with it, is permitted while beyond the playing reach of an opponent who might contest for it. If the bouncing action is continued beyond this point, that is to within the playing reach of an opponent, it may become play leading to dangerous play and subject to penalty.

 

Rule 9.3  Field-hockey is a non-contact sport. Players must not make any physical contact with, for example push, pull or hold, the person or the stick of an opponent even while in the act of tackling or positioning to attempt a tackle for the ball.   

 

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6 Comments to “Field Hockey Rulebook Rewrite: Rules. 9.2., 9.3., 9.4., 9.13. Physical Contact”

  1. One small comment:
    “generally the player from the same team as the player who raised the ball, must withdraw in such situations.”
    Too wishy-washy in statement for my taste. It doesn’t help the situation where a player raises a scoop ball to his own teammate fairly, but an opposition player rushes in to receive it while it is in flight/being received. Cause you singled out a side in the rule, it would be taken as gospel.

    Other than that, I wish these rules were taken up.

    • You have mixed up the Rule headings. The falling ball is dealt with under Rule 9.10.

      The only weakness I see in the statement you refer to is the inclusion of the word ‘generally’ – “must” means must it does not mean may and therefore possibly may not – offering a choice instead of a clear instruction (a word change with which the ‘gutting’ of the Obstruction Rule was begun way back in 1994).

      The guidance on application of the Rule needs to be read as a whole because all sections are interconnected; the matter of an encroaching same team player is covered in the last paragraph.

      • Ahh reading too many hockey tabs at once does that to commenting. My bad.

        It’s the word generally that gets me too, but I’m not sure how to phrase it, other than stating in ‘contested situations where there is no specific recipient (insert comment above)’

  2. Just found it above.
    9.2. second paragraph:

    Contesting with an opponent for possession of a falling ball is prohibited as dangerous play, one player, generally the player from the same team as the player who raised the ball, must withdraw in such situations.

    Why if this is done in 9.10 as you suggested, is it repeated in 9.2? With the word generally…..

    • I have no idea why some Rule clauses or guidance are repeated while others (often useful ones) simply disappear. That the Rules of Hockey remain a badly written mishmash cannot be denied.

      The word ‘generally’ is used when it will normally be the case that one thing will follow another but there may be exceptional or unforessen circumstances where an umpire will sensibly make another decision. For example the ball is falling towards an attacker, having been lofted by a team-mate using an aeial pass, and the attacker is encroached upon by a defender – but the ball lands goalside of the defender (or is missed by both players) and the attacker is able to run onto it and continue play – obviously a foul has occurred but the umpire would be very silly not to invoke the Advantage Rule and allow play to continue (and then to have a quite word with the defender when opportunity arises).

  3. I would love to sit down with these rule changes and the rule books side-by-side and go through them with a pair of scissors then an editor to merge and fix them properly. Currently the book is starting to look like my state’s legal system.

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