The AFL world has been left baffled after the Sydney Swans were able to snatch victory in the dying seconds against a resurgent Kangaroos team with injured star Dane Rampe doing his best to alert umpires to the gaffe. The Swans were down with one minute and 40 seconds left on the clock when confusion took over on the field.
North Melbourne mistakingly used 76 interchanges, one over the limit when Liam Shiels came from the ground with cramp, in the final moments as tensions were high. Stewards are meant to warn teams when they are down to five and one interchange, but the Kangaroos made two simultaneous replacements to take them past 75 rotations.
One of the few people that noticed the infringement was injured Swans star Dane Rampe who ran off the bench to make a commotion about the penalty. The rules dictate the umpires will then award the penalty at the next stop in play.
Moments later with 50 seconds left, while the teams were waiting in the goal square, the umpires awarded Hayden McLean a shot right in front of the goals to all but seal the victory for the Swans. Commentator Mark Howard was absolutely stunned.
"Extraordinary scenes, extraordinary scenes under the roof," he said. Fox Footy's Nick Del Santo said he hadn't seen such a penalty awarded for a team breaching the cap during a game.
"Very unusual set of circumstances with the game paused like that and the umpire clearly talking to someone through his head set,” he said. “It feels like there’s a fair bit of confusion.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the cap go over and therefore be penalised. I wouldn’t be shocked if the majority of players on the field have no idea what the last free kick was for.”
AFL world reacts to 'extraordinary' Sydney Swans drama
Fans were left absolutely stunned at what unfolded in Melbourne. On Triple M radio, the infringement was described as 'tragically cruel', while fans on social media were wondering why stewards didn't intervene to stop the final rotation.
Others questioned the rule itself and why the penalty is awarded at the next change in play, rather than the umpire stopping the game immediately. This allowed the Swans to march down field for the goal. Rampe also grabbed plenty of attention with Swans fans praising the injured star's passion and intuition during a crucial moment of the game.
It does seem pretty extraordinary that there’s not just a message to North Melbourne that they can’t make any more interchanges rather than a FK & 50m penalty. Seems unbelievably harsh to lose a game like that #AFL
Heartbroken for Kangaroos fans 💔 pic.twitter.com/fYOLVYf1Kr
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) May 20, 2023
“That is just tragically cruel…”
The box was in disbelief as an interchange infringement cost North Melbourne the game. pic.twitter.com/QcGrUPn60g
— Triple M Footy (@triplemfooty) May 20, 2023
North Melbourne hasn’t gone anywhere near the interchange in recent weeks (63, 62, 65 etc). Feel like fans who pay money to be at the ground deserve better communication as to why that free kick was paid. Umpires booed … but nobody to blame but themselves. pic.twitter.com/0JfQIYInTM
— Sam Landsberger (@SamLandsberger) May 20, 2023
A truly extraordinary way to lose a football match. pic.twitter.com/qvlRvXeuc7
— Riley Beveridge (@RileyBev) May 20, 2023
In the rules. I know it's a shocker but we all have to live with it.
— Suzanne Olsen (@suzannelolsenau) May 20, 2023
I reckon this has no influence on the game please explain and a fine
— Ewan M (@emac_23) May 20, 2023
My only problem with this rule is that officials from the bench should call for free kick as soon as limit is breached. Not when play is dead. What if north went end to end and kicked a goal before this gets notified to field umpires. Or in this case gives Sydney the win.
— franchise (@frankieaaron84) May 20, 2023
Dane Rampe is the funniest, most chaotic person in footy https://t.co/y6u9kMO17g
— bouledogues de l'ouest (@gameof4quarters) May 20, 2023
Dane Rampe is the greatest Swan of all time https://t.co/eUM1EiMYx6
— Daisy Ridley Scott (@SeamusDunlevie) May 20, 2023
North Melbourne coach Brett Ratten said while it was brutal his team had the chances to take victory away from the visitors. “We’ll have a look at it during the week and work out how we can do some things better but we’re not going to worry about that we had our chances,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“So, we’ll have a look and review it and see if we can get better … there’s sometimes chat about we’re getting close, but there’s nothing from a senior coach’s point of view where I’m looking at the interchanges, no we leave that to the bench.”
The confusion wasn't just on the field with Swans coach John Longmire admitting he had no idea what was occurring when McLean was awarded the penalty. “I had no idea what was going on,” Longmire said.
“I genuinely had no idea what the free kick and 50 was paid for it wasn’t until afterwards someone told me after the siren had gone.”
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