Today I sat down and watched the Magic (Waikato) play the Auckland based franchise the Diamonds in netball. It was a really good game with the Diamonds pipping the Magic rather surprisingly. Maria Tutaia was sensational in the circle for the Diamonds. The defences were rugged with Casey Williams playing very well.
What struck me was the way in which the Diamonds dealt with Irene van Dyk. Now I write as a Diamonds fan and supporter, but was totally shocked with the failure of the umpires to deal with the continuous contacts and over defending on the part of the two defenders Anna Scarlet and Stephanie Bond. They were all over her, contacting her, knocking the ball out of her hands and continuously breaking the rule to disrupt her. It worked but I think it ruined the game. The
Magic couldn't get the ball to her. I noticed the same tactics in Invercargill last week with the Sting and in the most recent games with Australia. I think the rules and umpiring are failing to stop perpetual offending.
Now I am all for tough defence but continuous fouls need to be sorted. To me Scarlett in particular should have been warned and sin binned. She deserved to be sent off. Her performance was on the one hand brilliant as she disprupted the greatest shooter in the history of the game and I think was a major reason the Diamonds won.
However, it is tragic that she was able to get away with it. I suggest that netball must come down on repeated offending and fouls. They need a foul system or a warning and sinbinning system or the game will degenerate into a farce.
I suspect that the netball world cup will be decided on this issue. The Australians will target Irene van Dyk with continuous and repeated fouls, contacting her and doing anything to disrupt her. Hopefully with Maria Tutaia and Donna Willkens we can counterpunch by them taking the bulk of the scoring.
So the message of this Blog is; sort out the fouls. Bring in a foul system a la basketball or have a warning and sin-bin/send off system (yellow/red card) and start using it. The game is already disrupted too much by whistle. Indeed, as the game goes professional next year, this will be essential as the level of athleticism continues to rise.