Netball: Harrison Hoist: 'No reason to alter rule'

By Dana Johannsen

Anna Harrison of the Mystics blocks the shot of Karen Howarth  of the Vixens. Photo / Getty Images
Anna Harrison of the Mystics blocks the shot of Karen Howarth of the Vixens. Photo / Getty Images

Umpiring officials believe there is no need for reactive rule changes following the Northern Mystics' controversial lifting tactics.

Netball was thrust into the rare position of leading the sporting debate yesterday after the Mystics unveiled a shock new defensive innovation in their transtasman league win over the Melbourne Vixens at the weekend.

Since then social networking sites, website message boards and radio talkback have been abuzz over the strategy, which saw Anna Harrison lifted by her defensive partner to block the shot.

The Harrison Hoist has polarised sporting fans, with some regarding it as a revolutionary manoeuvre while to others it is outright cheating.

There are no rules preventing goal tending or the lifting of players. As long as the player does not interfere with the net or post, the action is legal.

Many fans claim this is an oversight on the part of netball's rule-makers and a goal tending rule similar to basketball's needs to be introduced.

Dawn Jones, who also chairs IFNA's match officials panel, said the issue of goal tending was raised two years ago, but no action was taken as it was decided the strategy does not give the defenders an unsporting advantage.

"We've taken the view that if a player is being hoisted, then those two defenders are committed to that action, and therefore one shooter is left free of any defence, so there's something for both sides to gain from that action." The international body reviews the rules every eight years, with the next major discussion not due until after the 2015 world championships in Sydney.

Jones believes there is no need to rush in and make knee-jerk rule changes before then based on something that has happened in the game "only once or twice".

"Netball does not tend to be too reactive with rules, and I think that is a good thing. It would be unlikely that they would address anything [before 2015] unless they perceive it to be a significant problem, and I doubt very much that this is in that category at this point," said Jones.

"I think what happened yesterday was more that it was unexpected."

Which begs the question, did the Mystics blow their competitive advantage by revealing their shock tactics too early in the season?

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller said there was a temptation to save the hoist until play-offs time, but their first priority is to ensure they get there.

"If you were a real strategist you would have pulled it out at finals time, but we've got to get there first. Nothing is guaranteed in this league with the way teams are beating other teams and the momentum swings we've seen, we thought now is as good a time as any."

After making an indifferent start to the season, the Mystics were determined to make a statement to their rivals with a strong performance against the high-flying Vixens.

Fuller said her side's pride was dented by a humiliating loss to the Queensland Firebirds two weeks ago, and they wanted to reinforce to the public and themselves that a New Zealand team might still be capable of securing the ANZ trophy for the first time.

- NZ Herald

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