Ask Ray… about auto-passes and captains

Two questions this week for Olympic and World Cup final umpire Ray O’Connor to dig his teeth into:

Query 1: Can we get some clarification on the five yards on the auto pass rule from Ray? I was at a game on Saturday where a team were constantly being penalised for not being five yards away from a free that was taken quickly, yet they did not interfere with the play.

Ray’s response: You must be five metres for a free hit at all times when it is for the other team, that sounds simple!!!. If the player takes the free quickly (this is to be encouraged) and you do not have a chance to retreat five metres, you must not influence in any way that free.

You would influence how the free is taken by running a long side the free taker and stop them from going in any direction they wish, this should be strongly discouraged.

Having said all the above, the free taker also has responsibilities. They must take the free hit from a place close to where the free hit was awarded. If it is a self pass, they must make a effort to stop the ball, they must make two distinct movements with the ball while taking the free. The free taker must not move directly into the path of the other players with the intention to manufacture a foul.

Umpires must not look for ways to slow down the game. The new rules are there to make the flow better, we should all work together to make this happen.

Query 2: Why was the TRR captain sent off in the IHL game [against Glenanne]? And does this mean he will miss the next game?

Ray’s response: This is one of the more unfortunate things that can happen in hockey. Like in any game/sport we all have a job to do, that may be an umpire, captain, team manager or coach.

Within all of these jobs there are boundaries/responsibilities. The captain is responsible for the behaviour of all his/her players and team officials. The team manager should support the captain by looking after all the people on the team bench. The coach must only coach their own team, they must not in any try to influence the opposite team or officials.

This is always a difficult situation for an umpire to manage. The only person that the umpire should deal with when there are problems of misbehaviour on the team bench is the captain and hope that the captain is able to manage.

In some cases, as in the TRR situation, the captain was warned about the behaviour of the team bench. The captain, in this case, was unable to get control of the bench. The umpire having warned the captain was eventually left with no choice but to send of the captain.

A player who receives 3 yellow cards in IHL games will receive a one match ban. I do not have the count of yellow cards in this particular case.

* If you have any queries on umpiring interpretations or decisions, email with “Ask Ray” in the subject line. Meanwhile, to check out Ulster hockey’s “Whistleblower” section, click here

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