Netball Australia’s National Director of Umpiring, Chris Burton, says the Northern Mystics’ defensive of Anna Harrison, Kayla Cullen and Jessica Moulds deserve praise for their assisted intercepts against the Melbourne Vixens.
The netball community is hotly debating the assisted jump with social media sites abuzz and opinion divided on the legality of the unusual defensive action.
“I think the defenders need accolades for trying something different and they risked in doing it,” Burton said.
“The teamed jump by Harrison has caused much discussion and there’s a lot of emotion with regard to its fairness and its legality.
The move is perfectly legal under the rules of game explained Burton.
“Any thrown or shot ball may be intercepted at any point in time from its release to either its receipt or its success as a shot at goal; what made Sunday’s jump by Anna Harrison different was the assist from Cullen.”
While the jump may have been a first for the ANZ Championship, Burton pointed out that the move dates back to the 1970s and was seen on the international scene only last year at the 2011 World Netball Championships in Singapore.
Singapore’s defensive pairing of Premila Hirubalan and Lin Qingyi attempted the lift in their World Championships match in a bid to stop the towering 206cm Sri Lanka goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam.
“One of the first similar jumps to take place in netball was carried out in the 70s by Chris Stanton from Western Australia who was also the high jump champion in the same era,” Burton said.
“It’s not new, but it’s different and most people aren’t old enough to have remembered seeing it before.”
Burton confirmed that the jump complies with the Official Rules of Netball as long as no contact is made with the ring.
“Any defender who is 0.9 metres, or three feet, from the player with the ball may attempt to intercept, and that interception may take place at any point in time while the ball is free, in the air or on the ground,” Burton explained.
“What Harrison has done that’s different is to take it at the point of drop, so she has taken the intercept just before it’s gone into the ring.
“It’s an intercept: it’s unorthodox but it’s not illegal.”
Burton, a former Australian Diamond with 16 Test caps to her name, believes it’s up to the attackers now to counter the re-introduced lift.
“The thing that everybody forgets is there must now be a free player in the goal circle belonging to the other team,” Burton said.
“Now it’s up to the attacking players to say okay, we’ll wait or shoot higher or shoot nearer the post or we’ll bounce the ball in when she’s airborne because they’ll both be out of play and won’t be able to do anything.
“It’s a case of action and reaction being equal and opposite.”
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