Unpopular rule change axed for ANZ Premiership - 16 March 2017

Unpopular rule change axed for ANZ Premiership

One of the most unpopular rule changes in the transtasman netball league has been done away with by Netball New Zealand for the new elite domestic competition.

Extra time will be reinstated for the ANZ Premiership, which gets underway in 10 days time, ensuring all matches will be played to a result. It comes after extra time was controversially eliminated in last year's transtasman league in order to appease broadcasters who wanted certainty to their scheduling. The move led to an outcry from both fans and players, who found drawn games an anticlimactic ending.

The new Australian domestic league continues to let drawn results stand, but netball bosses here have opted to reintroduce extra time - albeit in shorter periods.

Teams will play two three minute periods of extra time - a reduction from the seven minutes each way played at international level. Like the international game, if the scores are locked at the end of extra time, the teams will continue to play until one takes a two-goal advantage. Netball NZ's head of events and international Kate Agnew said the decision to bring back extra time was prompted by overwhelming feedback from stakeholders. "Players very definitely find draws unsatisfying, they like to play to a result, they like to know the outcome. Fans also like for the excitement of extra time," said Agnew.

"Another important aspect is that one of the objectives of the ANZ Premiership is to prepare New Zealand players for international play at pinnacle events, and pinnacle events play to a result. We need to make sure our players have regular rehearsal and practice at being put into those situations so that when it happens in the pinnacle events they are much more ready for it."

Agnew said the extra time has been shortened out of consideration for match scheduling, with any overruns likely to prove particularly disruptive on "Super Sundays" where three matches will be played back-to-back at one venue. "The shortened time period is also about generating more pressure and ensuring the players are competing and pushing themselves for that entire extra time period," she said. Teams that come off second best in a tight contest will not go away empty-handed however, with one point awarded for a loss of five goals or fewer (the winning team collects two points).

Another rule variation this year is the introduction of unlimited in-game substitutions, enabling coaches to make changes at any point in the match. Previously, changes were only permitted during quarters in case of injury, which led to at times comical attempts by players to feign injury. Agnew said the rule application is much the same as it currently stands, but it eliminates the need for players to offer an (unconvincing) explanation for the stoppage. "There's no doubt we think [faking injuries] is not a great part of that rule, and one of the things we're very keen to see is for coaches as well to be able to have an impact on the game through being able to change players in and out."

The new rules have been applied in all preseason fixtures, including last weekend's warm-up tournament in Otaki, and Agnew said the teams have quickly adapted.

Article originally published in www.nzherald.co.nz on 16 March 2017. Author is Dana Johannsen.

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