‘The direction of Hockey Umpiring at The Olympic Games – what can we expect?’ by Andy Mair

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The Rio Olympic Games are here at long last, and the eyes of the World are ready to watch the athletes, competing in sports which may be familiar to them or perhaps have never been seen previously.

For the Hockey watchers; an Olympic Games is always a landmark, as people can see what style of play is prevalent, and what new skills emerge. The same is true for the implementing of the rules of the games, as the direction of officiating and rule enforcement alter slightly.

What can we expect from Rio? There are always additional clues from the last World Level events prior to the Olympic Games, and the newer developments from there were;

1. To not allow more than one player to come to question the umpire about a decision or perhaps to implement a video referral. The “two’s company but three is a crowd” principal. If additional players ‘crowd’ the umpire, this should result in a personal penalty for the offenders.

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2. This then leads on to the tidying up of the video referral scenario, as it has become a tactic for a player from the team that is not asking for the VU, to ‘hijack’ the questioning by adding their own comments within a distance that can be heard over the radios. This will not be tolerated, as the team that instigates the VU referral has sole command over what can be asked.
3. It has been noticeable how often a receiver of an aerial pass is now closed down by a defender, even if the attacker was in clear space before the pass was made. This could be interpreted as a deliberate foul as the defender choses to close within the five metres that they are allowed. Do not be surprised if we start to see escalation of these situations, with personal penalties for the more obviously deliberate offenders.

Beyond these few focus points the umpires are always looking to develop and enhance our wonderful game; the speed and flow, the good relationships with the players and team staff, allowing players to show off their remarkable skills in the knowledge that any negative ‘breakdown’ of their flare will be recognised and penalised. The rules and the umpires may well be there to try to keep things safe and enforce any penalties, but we are really there because we want to help the games to be better. We all want to strive for that perfect advantage which can result in a team gaining their reward! Let’s see if we can achieve that.

Andy Mair

Barrafinal

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