Governing body road tests new rules

The International Netball Federation (INF) recently announced its Rules Advisory Panel was undertaking a review of the rules of the game.

INF’s website (netball.org) caught up with the Panel’s Chair Cheryl Danson to discuss some of the developments that have taken place over the last six months.  Whilst the organisation isn’t revealing specific details any time soon, they predict some positive changes are on the way…

What’s developed over the last six months with the Rules review?
After analysing members’ rules submissions and other rules material, the Rules Advisory Panel (RAP) have now  agreed to the rules changes, and the work of writing the updated rules text has been allocated to RAP members, with  input from Dawn Jones (Officiating) and Jill McIntosh (Coaching).

We’ve also considered the rules book layout, and will be delivering the rules in a new format. We’ve had discussions with some other sports about their rules text and looked at their rule books’ layout to identify good  practice. Looking to the future, we’d like to use video clips to support the rules text. We had some useful feedback on the trials that members volunteered to undertake, and prepared recommendations for the INF Board about which of these should be included in the new rules.

Finally, we’ve prepared a detailed timeline for delivering the draft updated rules text to members by March 2015.

Which rules have been trialled so far and where?
Trial 1 – a two-point scoring system: Trialled in New Zealand during their National Netball Championships.

Trial 2 – Injury / illness stoppage to be 30 seconds: Trialled in New Zealand and Jamaica.

Trial 3 – Throw-in replaced with Free Pass: No trial undertaken; RAP has rejected this modification proposal.

Trial 4 – Setting the penalty: Trialled in England, Jamaica and New Zealand.

Trial 5 – Taking the Centre Pass: ‘The Centre in possession of the ball shall stand with at least one foot wholly within the centre circle.’ Trialled in New Zealand and confirmation of support for this modification proposal from Australia.

Trial 6 – Advantage: No trial undertaken.  RAP have rejected this modification proposal, but recommended to the INF Board that the advantage rule is re-worded to provide more clarity.

Trial 7 – Control of Start of Play: ‘The umpire shall re-start the game after all goals scored in the co-umpire’s half.’ Advisory panels support this and will undertake their own trials and prepare evidence.

Trial 8 – Division of Control: No member (country) volunteered to trial this modification proposal.  As it is a significant change then it would need to be trialled.  RAP recommended to the INF Board that the current division of control is maintained, but that it is emphasised in the rules that umpires need to co-operate with each other and work together.

Trial 9 – Centre Pass Signal: ‘The scorer shall indicate the direction of the centre pass immediately after a stoppage.’ Include wording in new rules text and ensure that it is clear that umpires remain responsible.

Trial 10 – Reduction of whistle in the game: England and New Zealand have undertaken their own trials, and was also implemented into the FAST5 Netball World Series in November.  RAP and Officiating have done their own statistical analysis, and further work is planned.

What can we expect from the new rule book?
We’ve been looking at other sports’ rule books and we’re planning to restructure our rules to include various new sections; an Introduction and Glossary, as well as sections on Equipment, Before the Match, During the Match, Sanctions, Start or Restart Play, and Game Management are all being considered.  One of the key changes you’ll see is more diagrams.

What are the next steps?
After our meeting around the FAST5 Netball World Series in New Zealand, we will consolidate the draft text that everyone has been working on and plan the preparation of more statistical and video evidence.

While the Rules Advisory Panel continues to work on its proposed rule modifications, the INF Board has also commissioned a review of International Umpiring to assess the pathways and processes in place, and how Netball needs to evolve to meet the needs of our developing sport.

Wharton Consulting from the UK were appointed to carry out the study, with all International Umpires (IUA) and International Talent Identified Umpires (ITID) asked to complete an online survey.  Along with the survey, umpiring experts from around the world were interviewed to develop a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the current system.

The INF Board is reported to be delighted with the response rate for the survey, and will release further details in the New Year following recommendations reported at the November Board Meeting.