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What’s the ducking difference between Joel Selwood and Jack Ginnivan?

Let’s be Frank here…

“Frank Drebin, Police Squad. Throw down your guns, and come on out with your hands up. Or come on out, then throw down your guns, whichever way you wanna do it. Just remember the two key elements here: one, guns to be thrown down; two, come on out!”

Where was the rules on the fly memo, explaining shifting interpretations of shrugging tackles for high free kicks to clubs, 19 games into Joel Selwood’s career?

As an aside: Who sends memos? Is it an attachment in an email? Or sent by fax?

I recall a junior colleague at a recruitment firm I worked in sending his introductory email to all staff in the following format.

Dear All,

See attached email.


He had put the contents of his email in a word document and sent it as an attachment. It was cute, but boy did we laugh.

AFL umpires’ boss Dan Richardson said the following in his memo attachment distributed to clubs this week:

“We want to be clear, if the umpire believes the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact, then they won’t be rewarded.

“First and foremost, players attempting to win the ball must be protected and the onus of duty of care is on the tackler. However, having won the ball, the ball carrier has a duty of care to not put themselves in a position for high contact.

“Ultimately, the rules do not reward players for putting themselves in vulnerable positions to draw a free kick. This is something we prefer not to see in our game at any level.

“Our umpires strive to get every decision right, every single time, however there are instances where, just like players, decisions are made at full speed at ground level without the benefit of slow-motion replay.

“The health and safety of players is the primary concern of both the AFL and the clubs, and we will continue to work with clubs, their coaching panels, as well as players to ensure the safety of the game.”

Credit where it’s due. Joel Selwood has milked the rules better than any Australian athlete – not named John Gillespie, David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft – across the span of his career. He has sat atop the free kick differential winners list for the last decade.

Joel Selwood of the Cats leads his team out onto the field

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The shrug has been a winner.

So, why the change now?

What is it about the ducking, dodging, diving, shrugging and staging of Jack Ginnivan and Cody Weightman that makes them the poster children for change? 

Is it because they’ve been very open about their “skillsets”? How they are training themselves, and their teammates, to perfect their exploitation of a loophole in the interpretation of a rule?

Only last week, Ginnivan gave a 50-minute interview on the Goes Alright Podcast where the title for the show was called The Art of The High Tackle ft. Jack Ginnivan. 

“I learnt it in under 15s. There’s vision of me doing it in under 16s,” Ginnivan said.

“I feel like it’s just a great way to kick a goal. I reckon I’ve kicked 10 goals from free kicks or something like that.”

Ginnivan went into further detail to explain how he practices the technique at training with teammates.

“I was doing it with ‘Madge’ (Jack Madgen) … instead of going to ground I was trying to stand up in the tackle and take it,” he said.

“That’s something I’m trying to work on because there’s an indication of when you raise your arm up and go to ground on your knees it looks like you’re just diving for it, but if you pick it up, stay upright and get high and you can handball it then that’s a better indication that it’s going to work.”

Cody Weightman? When chatting to Garry Lyon on SEN Breakfast, he portrayed a similar message, suggesting his drawing of free kicks is a “skillset”. And then went on to suggest that anyone criticising him is part of the tall poppy cutting committee.

Joel Selwood, on the flip side, has been a little smarter in trying to protect his ruse over the years. Outside of an interview in 2012, with Michael Gleeson from The Age, Selwood has been very quiet.

The Age opening par: JOEL Selwood admits his uncanny ability to draw head-high free kicks is a legitimate evasive technique and he is merely exploiting an advantage he has over less experienced or weaker opponents.

In 2018, he said: “You can talk about the whole thing that I duck but I do it to the rules at the moment and I will continue to do it until they get changed.”

And that’s the difference between Joel and the two youngsters who seemed to have upset the king’s throne by flaunting their exploitation.

The thing I’ve learnt about the big end of town in sport, is that the exploitation goes only one way: price of admission and then again at the tuck shop.

Gill won’t be exploited.

“I don’t like the exploitation of the rule and I don’t like that – the rule is there to protect players’ heads – they are actually putting themselves in harm’s way”.

The AFL have made the moral of this story very clear.

Don’t be like Jack Ginnivan, or Cody Weightman, or Joel Selwood, who would fake their own death, sell their grandmas, or pee their own pants, if it meant winning a free kick.

The game is already hard enough to watch.

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