I was watching a mate get fired up for his footy match when in a storm of adrenaline he started to climb up the goal post. The coach told him to get down straight away and that it’d get him in trouble if he climbed a post during a match. That got me thinking, how much trouble can you get in to for climbing a goal post during a footy match.
It is against official AFL rules to climb a goal post. A free kick can be awarded against a player who climbs a goal post using the Shaking Goal Post or Behind Post rule. The AFL has applied this rule to players climbing a goal post; there are some examples listed below.
I took a look at the official AFL rules, and some examples of where players have climbed the goal post, to find out exactly how much trouble someone could get in for climbing a goal post. In short, it seemed the most trouble a footy player would get in to for climbing the goal posts is a free kick, a stern talking to, or a warning from the umpire.
Giving Away a Free Kick
A free kick is awarded against the player who climbed the goal post, under the AFL rule for shaking goal posts.
If it’s a defender climbing the goal post, the free kick is awarded to the attacking team and is taken at the centre of the goal line.
If it’s an attacker climbing the goal post, the free kick is awarded to the defending team player who was nearest where the football will be or was kicked, and the free kick is taken from this position.
If a goal is scored regardless of anyone climbing the goal post, it will still count.
Climbing a behind post has the same rules: Free kick awarded against the player who climbed it, unless a goal was scored (then it doesn’t count).
Getting a Stern Talking To
In the AFL case I read about (see below), the AFL issued a “please explain” to the team the player was on regarding his on-field behaviour.
People make mistakes and in the case of this player the warning was hopefully enough to make sure he doesn’t repeat his mistakes.
I imagine if someone climbed the goal post in any AFL match, that the umpire would have some words to say to that player.
I couldn’t find any other trouble a goal post climbing player would get in to, other than a talking to, a warning, and a free kick to the other team.
The Umpire’s Judgement
Application of the rule is up to the umpire. I found a few examples from AFL representatives interviewed about the rule saying that a bit of common sense umpiring can apply.
If the player climbing the goal post didn’t mean to interfere with the match, the umpire may tell the player to get down and let the match continue as if nothing happened.
I’ve found this might also be the reason the “shaking the goal post” rule is applied to climbing. If there’s an intention to disrupt the game, such as by distracting another player, then penalties are available. If it’s not going to disrupt the game, then it’s at the umpire’s discretion.
Examples of the Rule
The most recent I can think of was Dane Rampe from the Swans who climbed a goal post in the 2019 Round 8 match against Essendon. An Essendon player was lining up for the shot 60m out from goal (rated a 1% chance to make it by his coach) and Rampe decided to climb the goal post!
As soon as the nearest umpire noticed, he was told get down, which he did straight away. No free kick was awarded and the Swans won the match.
After the match, the AFL sent a “please explain” to Sydney regarding Rampe’s behaviour. The AFL overall supported the umpire’s decisions and nothing else seemed to come of it. I can’t find any record of him climbing a goal post again after that.
Should the Penalty be Harsher
I don’t think there should be a harsher penalty, there’s no point; I couldn’t think of any appropriate punishment that could be given to a player for simply climbing the goal post (other than a free kick awarded to the other team). I don’t think it’s appropriate to suspend a player if climbing the goal post was the only thing they’d done.
I read a lot of outcry after the umpire’s decision to warn Rampe instead of awarding a free kick to the other team. In this case, the problem was that the other team could’ve won, so emotions were high. With the AFL boss supporting the umpire’s decision, it’s hard to argue that any harsher penalty could’ve applied.
It’s not a situation that occurs often, and it seems most players have the common sense not to climb the goal posts.
More Info About the Rule
Technically the rule that was applied to Rampe, and to anyone who climbs a goal post, is about shaking the goal post. The rule is 17.11 of the Laws of Australian Football. The rule states (insert quote) where 17.11.3 is an exception if a goal is scored anyway. I’d say this rule is applicable to climbing the goal post for two reasons:
- The post is being shaken as the player climbs it
- The player climbing the post is still distracting from the play
I used information from the AFL and from various media outlets in putting this article together. If you’re interested in this rule, or other official AFL rules, check out the Laws of Australian Football here (watch out, it’s a long PDF)
We also host a podcast here at Anybody’s Fan where we talk about these tough umpiring decisions and what we think should’ve been done instead. Check us out here: https://www.angrylittlemanproductions.com/anybody-s-game
Written by Chris. Chris grew up in Melbourne, home of footy. While he still watches the game, he hasn’t had much of a chance to play lately.