A special meeting of the AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) Executive convened on Monday afternoon to investigate the circumstances and consequent result of the TIO NTFL Men’s Division 1 Qualifying Final between Nightcliff and Waratah, played on Saturday 23 February at the Marrara Cricket Ground.
In accordance with the AFLNT Rules & Regulations (2019 edition), a decision has been made to award the win to Waratah Football Club 8.9.57 over Nightcliff Football Club 8.8.56.
After seeking independent legal counsel, the AFLNT Executive has resolved that the match should’ve been conducted according to the governing rules and regulations, and therefore was required to end the match as soon as a point was scored when the game resumed after the fourth-quarter draw.
To clarify the events surrounding the incident;
During the three-quarter time break of the game, the field umpires met with the captain of both sides and discussed the rules should the game end in a draw.
The umpires informed the players that should the scores be level at the completion of the fourth quarter, the teams would have a five-minute break, in which their coaches could address them, before commencing two five-minute halves of extra time (10 minutes total). At the end of the extra time allowance, the team in front would be declared the winner.
At the time of this discussion, the captains understood and acknowledged the umpires’ direction.
During extra time, Waratah was the first team to register a point and the timekeeper, who was not privy to the discussion at the three-quarter time break, sounded the siren to signify the end of the game.
At this point, the timekeeper called the match manager, who was also not privy to the discussion during the three-quarter time break. Both timekeeper and the match manager were under the impression the game should’ve ended after Waratah scored the behind.
They walked onto the ground to confer with the umpire and teams, who reiterated what had been discussed at the three-quarter time break, and the game continued. At the conclusion of the full 10 minutes of extra time, Nightcliff was 13.9.87 to Waratah 8.9.57 winners.
Since these events, AFLNT has uncovered that the adjudicating umpires had enforced the incorrect scenario, in accordance with the AFLNT Rules & Regulations (2019 edition).
Under Rule 3.16 – Competition Drawn Finals Matches it states:
In any finals match where the scores are tied at the end of full time the following
(a) At the conclusion of full time, there will be a five (5) minute interval during which time the coaching staff may address the players.
(b) At the conclusion of the five (5) minute interval, the teams will change ends and play until a score is registered at which time the game will end and the team with the highest score will be declared the winner.
AFLNT affiliate leagues may vary drawn finals match rules for one or more competitions subject to that competition’s by-laws.
As stated in the last line of 3.16, the NTFL Is able to vary the scenario for a drawn final so long as it is published in the By-Laws.
Therefore, when referring to the NTFL By-Laws 2018-19 Edition, it states under rule 3.8:
3.8.1 In any Men’s or Women’s Premier League Finals Match where the scores are tied at the end of full time, the following rules apply;
3.8.2 At the conclusion of full time there will be a five minute interval during which time the coaching staff may address the players.
3.8.3 The teams will then change ends from the final quarter and play five minutes.
3.8.4 At the conclusion of this period there will be a three minute interval during which time the coaching staff may not address the players.
3.8.5 At the conclusion of the three minute interval the teams will again change ends and play for a further period of five minutes.
3.8.6 At the conclusion of the second five (5) minute period;
(a) The team with the highest score will be declared the winner…
As stated above, the NTFL By-Laws only detail an exception to the AFLNT Rules & Regulations for the Men’s and Women’s Premier League divisions.
This means that the umpires and AFLNT match manager failed to enforce the correct regulation in reference to the Nightcliff vs Waratah Men’s Division 1 Qualifying Final.
On Sunday afternoon AFLNT received a complaint from the Waratah Football Club in relation to the result.
After gathering the facts of the incident, AFLNT opened an investigation into the matter.
Upon seeking independent legal counsel, the AFLNT Executive ruled that AFLNT was required to conduct the match according to the rules and regulations and therefore awarded the game to the Waratah Football Club.
Further, The AFL Laws of Australian Football provide that the field umpires shall officiate and have full control of a Match (Clause 8.2.1). It does not amount to a power for the field umpires to conduct the match outside of the operating rules and regulations.
The NTFL football operations team has informed both clubs of the AFLNT Executive’s decision to award the win to Waratah.
AFLNT deeply regrets the circumstances in which the game ended and is taking immediate action to ensure it does not happen again;
- The NT umpiring group will be addressed at training this week, where they will be reminded for the two varying ‘drawn final’ scenarios; whereby Men’s and Women’s Premier League require the full extra time of 10 minutes and all other divisions/grades require only a first score in extra time
- The same message will be shared to all match managers and timekeepers
- A clear and simple document outlining the scenarios for a drawn final will be printed and displayed in all team changerooms for the remainder of the 2018/19 TIO NTFL season
In the NTFL off-season, AFLNT will tighten its processes and procedures to account for situations where an umpire and match manager have a conflicting stance, and in future, it will also initiate a meeting with all clubs leading into finals to get everyone on the same page.
In accordance with the AFLNT Rules & Regulations the Nightcliff Football Club has until 5pm Tuesday 26 February to lodge an appeal in relation to this decision.