Missing Man Formation of Tigers has Hardwick Fuming

Most sports codes have their share of bizarre, byzantine rules and one of those rules has risen up to bit the Richmond Tigers of the AFL.

The Tigers lost a key player in Ben Griffiths, who decided the low-paying, glamour less existence of an AFL player was no longer to his liking and accepted an athletic scholarship to play as a punter for the University of Southern California. Griffiths, along with the opportunity to earn a world-class education at a prestigious university on the beach in California, may have his eye on the NFL, where a good punter can earn far in excess of what the top pay rate is in the AFL.

That move leaves the Tigers with a vacant spot on their list and footy rules prohibit the club from filling that vacancy until November of 2018.

Richmond Tigers Coach Damien Hardwick, obviously, does not care for the regulation, who describes the rule as “farcical,” has been a long-time proponent of mid-season changes to a club’s list. He accused the AFL of being way “behind the times” when it comes to player movement.

“I find it farcical that we can only improve our list once a year,” the reigning premiership coach told AFL Media. I do not understand what we have to do to give a guy that’s playing fantastic footy in the VFL, or wherever it may be, an opportunity through the year if we have significant injuries. “We’ve just lost Ben Griffiths, who’s chosen to pursue a different career, and we’ve got a list spot there that will remain unfilled. Every kid who is kicking a ball around this day and age wants to play AFL footy and we’ve got a spot available that will sit for the whole year. That’s 12 months no one gets an opportunity and it’s disappointing for mine.”

Careful there, Coach Hardwick. At least the AFL will not force the Tigers to play 17-a-side during the upcoming season of the Toyota AFL Premiership competition.