Everyone hates a bully, but here's when and why to call one and how to get the best outcome on #RuleyTuesday!
Ready to go toe-to-toe with a bully? Come at me, bro, in this #RuleyTuesday: let’s do this.
Hey friends! I’m Keely Dunn of FHumpires, and I’m delighted to be with you, the ridiculously good-looking third team, for this hot take on another rule in the book.
One of the least common methods of restarting play, and target of a long-standing obsession suffered by my friends Matt and John over at The Reverse Stick, is the bully. When would you call a bully? How do you conduct one? What common conventions outside the rules exist for bullies, and why are bullies for losers?
Yeah, you heard me, bullies suck. We’ll get there.
Rule 6.5: The Bully
The bully is all up in the face of rule 6.5, which starts by bossing us about when to call one:
A bully takes place to re-start a match when time or play has been stopped for an injury or for any other reason and no penalty has been awarded.
The sub-clauses then tell us how to run it:
a) a bully is taken close to the location of the ball when play was stopped but not within 15 metres of the backline and not within 5 metres of the circle
b) the ball is placed between one player from each team who face each other with the goal they are defending to their right
c) the two players start with their sticks on the ground to the right of the ball and then tap the flat faces of their stick together once just over the ball after which either player is permitted to play the ball
d) all other players must be at least 5 metres from the ball.
When Do We Call Bullies?
Common scenarios in which we stop time or play without a foul being called: an object blows onto the field that makes it unsafe to continue. Maybe, a dog runs onto the field and everyone’s far distracted by the cute to possibly go on.
A Bully After an Injury
An injury is one we see often enough. Although here a free hit or penalty corner should have been awarded had the umpire seen the contact, depending on whether the ball was dangerous or the attacker was struck with a ball which otherwise would have been safe but for her head being so close to the ground, no call was yet made. In order to keep the players safe, a bully then was needed to stop play when the attacking team was in possession of the ball.
The umpire makes the correct signal, which is akin to a Swedish tapping massage, and sets up the players. Because the ball was in play inside the circle when the bully was called, according to sub a), the bully has to be taken 5m outside the circle close to where the ball was. The players line up opposite each other, right shoulders pointing at their own defending goals, everyone else is 5m away, they tap their sticks once and something really awkward ensues. If two of the best teams in the world can’t make this moment look cool, who can?
Changing a Stop-Play Decision
Another situation where a bully may be needed is when an umpire awards a stop-play penalty such as a penalty corner or a penalty stroke, but on consultation realize that no foul had occurred. Unfortunately, a bully is the only way restart play. In this case, the teams get set up the same way, despite one defender’s stubborn insistence that the ball needs to be taken at the 23m line. However, these teams follow the common convention we’ve seen in some other weird sport that involves a ball that I’ve vaguely heard of but can’t place at the moment, where the team who didn’t have the ball plays it back to team who did. The ball is expected to travel some distance so as to not put the team who didn’t under immediate pressure, but not too far, or send it out of bounds, which is considered real bullying behaviour.
It’s the opposite of a free hit: it’s a constrained hit, as demonstrated here.
The “best” bully-taker I ever saw would, on the tap, already be moving her stick downwards towards the ball instead of looking to touch her opponent’s stick at the apex of the movement. Obviously, she gained a valuable second or so on her opponent in a way that seemed unfair but there wasn’t anything at all in the rules requiring both players to agree on the geometries of their sticks movements.
Here’s another problem: what’s a tap and what’s a stick obstruction? Where do we draw the line between a fair striking of the stick and interference? What isn’t “enough” of a tap? Does it need to be audible? If it’s tactile, how can an umpire tell? Do wait for one player to tell on the other for not touching their stick? How “over the ball” is over? Why is this so complicated when nobody actually did anything wrong?
We don’t know, and we don’t care. Because 99 times out of 100, the bully shouldn’t be contested. My advice is to educate players on the constrained hit and do everything you can to avoid 50/50 situations because nobody likes a bully.
Do you agree that the bully is a terrible way to fight for possession? Does a constrained hit make more sense to you?
Fight me over this #RuleyTuesday in the comments and replies, and like this video right now because I told you to. Also, all the cool kids have already joined the FHumpires Third Team because a $3 a month Green membership gets you a hall pass to all past #WhatUpWednesday episodes, and a Yellow membership basically is the table where all the cheerleaders and football players sit at lunch. Be there or be square and chau for now!
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