Home » Changes to Super Netball rules that encourage speed and physicality have sparked controversy.

Changes to Super Netball rules that encourage speed and physicality have sparked controversy.

by Christina
Super Netball

In round four, Giants center Jamie-Lee Price moved into Shamera Sterling-Humphrey’s path and sent the Thunderbirds goalkeeper sprawling to the ground, generating a stir among Super Netball fans. However, Price received no punishment and no additional sanctions. Even though the outcome of the game was at that point all but certain, the match fired up the fans at the start of the third quarter and served as a reminder of a few significant rule changes this season.

The new rules for World Netball generated a lot of curiosity about how Super Netball would implement them when the 2024 season got underway. Considering that rolling substitutes are already a feature of the league, several of the more significant rule changes, including allowing tactical substitutions following a goal, have gone unnoticed. Others are just minor adjustments to make the game run more smoothly.

The modifications pertaining to game administration have arguably been the most intriguing. The goal of the new rules is to give umpires more authority to stop risky play early on by streamlining the player suspension procedure. In the first round of the Premiership Netball competition in New Zealand, four suspensions were handed out; however, four rounds into the Super Netball season, not a single ban has been handed down.

This contrast emphasizes the fact that Super Netball is primarily a product for entertainment. Though this has long been evident due to high-profile rule modifications such as rolling substitutes and the still-debatable two-point super shot, the distinction is best shown by the minute variations in how the rules are interpreted.

Super Netball

Image credit: theguardian.com

Although the spectacular super shot failed to draw the anticipated spectators, recent umpiring interpretations appear to have a greater influence on the entertainment value of games. The game’s speed and intensity have increased as more contesting is allowed, making it a more desirable product for spectators, coinciding with reported rises in average attendance and broadcast numbers.

The incident involving Price and Sterling-Humphrey has subsequently been brought up as one that warrants a ban, but the attention it brought to an otherwise innocent game emphasizes how crucial fan involvement is in determining how rules are applied.

Although there are more penalties in Super Netball than in New Zealand—partially because Australian teams like playing one-on-one defense, although zone defense is frequently preferred on both sides of the Tasman—the games are not being cut short because there is little escalation. Players keep chasing the ball because they don’t care if it puts their team at a disadvantage. It’s debatable whether or not this is ideal for player safety in the game, but it certainly has an entertaining value.

During the Covid-19 hub season in Queensland, defender Kristiana Manu’a of the Giants received a two-minute suspension and was later ordered off the field for the final nine minutes of a game, marking the only use of the complete game management procedure in the seven seasons of Super Netball.Despite playing much of the final quarter with just six players, the Giants lost by one goal.

This very controversial ruling showed the severe repercussions of suspending a player in a sport where there are only seven players on the court and limitations on the places that players can enter. It also had long-term effects for the league.

Under the new regulations, umpires streamline the procedure, moving infractions down the court, issuing formal warnings, suspensions, and orders to leave the game. Cautions are abolished, and after four minutes, a teammate may substitute the expelled player.

Once the new regulations are better understood and applied across various tournaments, Super Netball may begin using suspensions. However, a careful balance between spectator engagement and player safety will likely be achieved. Crucially, in this regard, the rules permit primary care physicians sitting on the team benches to ask the umpires to halt play if they think a concussion assessment is necessary.

The Super Netball season’s inaugural round saw two drew games that went into extra time. These close games indicate that the league’s intensity is only going to rise, which will probably result in greater physical confrontations. The rules now empower umpires to limit this intensity; as the competition progresses, more scrutiny falls on them to maximize these new powers.

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