AFL umpires chief Peter Schwab says he won’t buy into talk umpires are swayed by crowd noise after Richmond coach Damien Hardwick pointed to Geelong’s home ground advantage for a free kick discrepancy in the Cats’ 14-point win over the Tigers at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.
With Richmond already unhappy about being made to play their blockbuster at Geelong’s fortress, Hardwick’s angst was exacerbated by a 28-17 free kick tally in the home side’s favour.
However Schwab – who earlier this year said umpires were not specifically trained to deal with crowd noise – reiterated that it was not an issue, suggesting that it was unhelpful to focus raw free kick numbers.
“I think from our point of view, a lopsided free kick count isn’t an issue,” Schwab told Fairfax Media.
“A lot of clubs always talk about this so-called noise of affirmation which means the crowd has an influence. Personally I don’t buy into it. I don’t buy into the free kick count. The umpires go out and umpire on the basis of how the game unfolds. And they’ll pay free kicks according to whether it’s a free kick or not a free kick in their opinion.
“So the free kick count might be lopsided but that’s no indication those free kicks aren’t there or aren’t correct. All I ever say is, if we’re making errors, we need to look into why those errors occur.
“But there’s no way known from an integrity point of view that the umpires ever look at the free kick count.
“It just can’t factor in, because they’re too busy umpiring the game. That’s the way umpiring’s always been.”
It had been suggested that Hardwick could receive a ‘please explain’ from AFL football operations boss Andrew Dillon about the matter, and Schwab was reluctant to be drawn on whether Hardwick should receive such a notice.
“As for Damien getting a ‘please explain,’ that doesn’t fall across my agenda,” Schwab said.
“Ultimately Damien and I can always have a chat about the game and whether the free kicks were there or not. That’s a legitimate conversation that we can have.”
There’s no way known from an integrity point of view that the umpires ever look at the free kick count.
The AFL said no decision would be made on the matter until after the league’s regular Monday meeting.