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Hello fellow learners,

Does AFL have a ‘concussion’ problem like Wendy Carlisle suggests??? Yes indeed!!!

As I will explain below, it can all be eased by going 9v9 for juniors and youth. (Psssst: this is the last in this series! I’m heading back to rugby league coaching because it’s safer…)

However, I urge independent, caring adults to read this piece below before reading any from me.

This above piece is the final nail in the coffin for me. I’ve spent three years trying to work out the NATIONAL game but am firmly convinced that entertainment seems more important than player safety by the big corporation. Look at previous posts on to see my further inquiry and provocations but it appears that “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!!!” (The Bard, ‘Hamlet’) for mine…

Let me start with a little anecdote as always.  I live on the furthest most north eastern outpost of Brisbane, before you hit rugby league heartland, Redcliffe. Redcliffe finds the local red dolphins’ jersey easily outworn by community fans over the Brisbane Broncos.  Yet, my daughters play AFL but only watch the women on TV otherwise it’s all rugby league with J. Thurston and G. Inglis their heroes.  However, this seems similar to many girls in AFL that I have coached.  Thus, when my wife and I walked a pram past my local rugby league club (where I played as a kid) housing our first born daughter, “Not in your life!!!” said she.  “Even if she was a boy, there is no way he’d be playing rugby league…..”

Now sure, the language of the Rugby League coaches, supporters and players might have helped her thoughts here, BUT… To be honest, it was a safety thing.  See, like most rugby league and union people, we believed that when players die etc playing those games ()very rarely and sadly), that AFL – that we knew little about – must be the safer option. 

However, fortunately, now having coached for three years in varied context throughout Queensland, Australian football, I can dispute that.  Concussion and the AFL’s ‘slowness’ to change rules etc proves this to me.  Take this below.  Any rugby league or union coach I’m sure would be shocked that this Burton ‘bump’ was deemed legal:  (search here or scroll to very bottom)

So was this one by this ‘big bopper’ Sandilands. He also received a week off injured but no suspension,

LeCras was also cleared also as can be found on the West Coast Eagles webpage:

In any case, the ‘art’ of the bump is explained here for community coaches and novices.

Whilst, there are some dangers about contacting the ‘head’ noted, ‘perfect’ bumps are also in fact explained as best handled when your opponent is ‘off balance’.  Or in other words, DO many like this one, when the recipients have absolutely ZERO clue that you are coming!!!  This one was Tweeted out by the AFL themselves as ‘good tough footy’…  Either way, the commentators said, “All fair!”  &  “Perfect timing”:

Yet to some of us from the other collision codes, this ‘bump’ thing was outlawed long ago.  It’s called a shoulder charge.  Why did he or she not try and tackle (wrap) for example???

Now there’s not much I can do about Harris Andrews and his unfortunate brain bleed from this piece of ‘foul play’ below, but I can suggest once again that 9v9 for young people, or, elite players, reduces congestion so that it’s safer to play, officiate and coach?

Yet, the perpetrator here was only given one week below..… As he ‘punishes’!!!

Stefan Martin Concussion 2016 – This fellow was given five weeks:

Either way, I’m confused like Wendy Carlisle. The BUMP needs revision and thankfully the AFL I am told is looking at reviewing rules etc. This no doubt is much to the dismay of the ‘leave it alone’ brigade.

Leave it alone hey? Think about this, Muhamad Ali when I was a kid. was the most famous American outside of The FONZ from Happy Days. We all watched his slow demise and boxing has changed as a result. Well done!!! When will the AFL change and take this similar stuff seriously???

Now, this is not an academic piece, so you do your own research, around:

1) How ‘marking’ as by far and away the most risky part of Australian football from their own numbers.

2) Bu,t tackling is the 2nd or 3rd worst. Which I can certainly help with!

3) Dr. Nathan Gibbs publishing in an academic journal how Sydney Swans’ reporting of concussion was 2 and a half times greater than that cited by the AFL game operation.

4) That women in all sports are twice as likely to be concussed than males.

5) That Ireland (a far smaller country than ours and far more affected by the GFC) through Trinity and the Irish Rugby Board, is investing ‘proper’ money on this concern. Especially when compared with the miniscule amount so secretively guarded by the AFL.

Now, I move my argument on… Please tell me learners, why would a player like this Queenslander properly attempt to tackle, when a ‘bump’ is allowed, and, indeed, a safer option? Sorry ‘tackling’ Nick and team but that is poor tracking, framing, feet placement, stance, head placement, plus features no dip, no drive etc amongst others… Next time, for your own sake, go the BUMP!!! There is too much congestion mate, so look after yourself and hurt the other bloke only.

In any case, as the great Alistair Clarkson (PE teacher, yes I’m biased) said, in an article by Patrick Smith on the BUMP: ““If things need to die along the way because it’s for the safety of our players, then that’s a good thing.”

Ok!!!!Thus back to the kids. I call for the end of 18v18 for reasons that I have listed before and this: The tackle is NOT taught in junior or youth Australian football in my experience. It just isn’t!!!

Even in boys’ youth ‘rep’ teams that I have been involved in, had never ever even ‘pummelled’ before…

Thus, if you want to learn how to tackle, get in touch with me. BUT it starts from the ground up!

Of course, you could solve all of this by just going 9v9. And no!!! Tackle bags and a line of 15 girls practicing cartwheels is not teaching!!!

And, as far as all of the ‘nay-sayers’ go who talk about ‘tradition’,

Did you know that Australian football had scrums in the late 1890s?

Did you know that Tom Wills (alleged founder of Australian football) went to Rugby school in England?

Did you know that the amazing game of ‘Marngrook ‘and other wonderful indigenous games I’ve used in PE had no influence on Australian football?

YES!!! It is just mythology!

It’s just like that of AFL being safer than rugby league, a 180 degree game, where you brace for front-on or in side-on contact…

Indeed below, you will see a junior photo of a Brisbane girl tackling in a better style than Nick Reiwoldt above.  Thus I say: WELL done coach, dad, brothers etc…

But… Look at the congestion!!!  Ludicrous!

Thus, I am back to the simplicity of rugby league (shown below) where my senior women will spend six progressive weeks on tackle safety in the off season!  Because, as the Irish research is very clear on, the tackler gets concussed far more so than the attacker.

Thus there is a choice, ease the congestion or go the BUMP!

Yours in learning,

Craig Gunn (AFL Coach level 2 and experienced educator of a couple of decades)

PS. Play for Valleys Diehard’s Senior Women: The funnest, safest, most welcoming and professional learning team in the state:

Love the ‘folded arm’ brigade!!! “What about ‘tradition’?”

Love the ‘folded arm’ brigade!!! “What about ‘tradition’?”