Move Afoot to Eliminate Mid-Season Player Poaching Efforts in AFL

It is something that raises the hackles of many and it is an aspect of Australian sports code that should not be neglected any longer.

What is this, you may ask?

It is most obvious in the AFL and the NRL; the practice of coaches meeting with opposition players during the season to hold discussions aimed at getting the players to defect from their current club to the club of the coach.

It is possible that it has gone the other way, too, with players trying to lure coaches, but the first scenario is the most frequent and to many observers, it is something that should be addressed and codified sooner, rather than later.

One fairly recent example is the July meeting between Collingwood Magpies Coach Nathan Buckley and highly sought Gold Coast free agent Tom Lynch.

There are plenty of other examples and the NRL seems to supply those examples, sometimes seemingly almost daily, of players meeting with other clubs during the season.

The big American sports leagues frown on the practice to such an extent that they have instituted, for many years now, anti-tampering rules that proscribe opposition player/coach contact during the season.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan, appearing on Fox’s On The Couch, went on record to voice his views, saying, “There’s not an anti-tampering rule (at the moment). I don’t like the look of it (the meetings), and I don’t think it’s necessary. “I believe managers can talk to each other, and people can have discussions, but I’m not sure it’s something we want in the game.”

The obvious assumption is that meetings of these types could influence the outcome of games and that assumption does not require much of a stretch of the imagination.

In America’s NFL, there are severe sanctions with regard to meeting with a player under contract to another club. Those sanctions include hefty fines and draft pick forfeitures.