Hockey Rules Board

Minor changes to the Rules in 2001

The Hockey Rules Board met in Paris in November and put forward various rule changes which were agreed by the FIH Council. They will be included in the 2001 Rules book which is due to be published in mid-2001. In summary, the main changes will be:

Short "distance" markings.
These markings, on the side and back-lines of the field, are currently specified in Rule 1.3. They are to be placed outside the field of play, rather than inside, as at present. This will help avoid undue wear and uneven surfaces, especially on synthetic pitches.

The opportunity has also been taken to convert the penalty corner markings on the back-line to 5m and 10m. The existing 4.55m and 9.10m markings are inconsistent with other rules. This change will be effective immediately for any new pitches but those with existing markings will still be permitted. The wording of the rules will accommodate both existing and new pitch markings.

Stick rule.
Amendments and clarifications will be made to the technical wording of the stick (Rule 4), in consultation with the FIH Equipment Committee officers. In substance, no changes are involved.

The need for each team to have a captain (who must wear a distinctive arm-band) actually on the field of play is no longer thought to be essential given the existence of rolling substitutions. It has been agreed that the captain could be on the field or, at particular times in a game, could be on the substitute's bench. However if a captain is suspended, a replacement must be indicated.

Manufactured fouls.
Manufactured fouls are having an increasingly bad effect on the flow and presentation of the game. They can negate the promotion of skilful play and are often not penalised correctly. Greater emphasis will be placed in the Rules on the manufactured foul.

Goalkeepers restricted.
When goalkeepers participate in play outside their normal areas, it is confusing to players and spectators. The HRB has specifically become increasingly concerned about the involvement of goalkeepers in the completion of the penalty corner at half and full-time.

An additional benefit and unreasonable emphasis can be given to these particular penalty corners, compared to others during the game. It has therefore been agreed that goalkeepers cannot play outside their own half of the field, unless taking a penalty stroke.

Misconduct by substitutes.
The HRB shares with others a concern about increasing levels of misconduct. In the light of comments received from national associations and elsewhere, it was agreed that penalties for misconduct should be strengthened. Substitute players when not on the field, are still under the control of the umpires. It is decided that they can be cautioned, warned, temporarily or permanently suspended. In the event of a suspension, the number of players on the field will be reduced accordingly.

Edge of the Stick.

The Rules Advisory Panel and the Hockey Rules Board had comprehensive discussions about the current mandatory experiment (Rule 4.5a) whereby the edge of the stick can be used to play the ball. Detailed and extensive consideration has been given to various implications of this rule, taking into account legal advice, safety, and feedback from national associations and stick manufacturers.

s It was agreed that the mandatory experiment should be approved and incorporated within the Rules. To give everyone involved time to accommodate this change, it is intended that formal inclusion in the Rules will take effect when the 2002 Rules book is printed. The 2000/2001 Rules book will continue to refer to this as a mandatory experiment.

Penalty corner trial

A year ago the Rules Advisory Panel put forward ideas for a revised form of penalty corner. The Hockey Rules Board agreed that national associations should be asked to conduct trials on a voluntary basis. The feedback from these trials has been extremely helpful although, regrettably, the number of national associations who participated was small. The trial essentially sought to simplify the existing penalty corner. Experience has broadly indicated that simplification was a worthwhile objective. However, it is not clear that the version used in the trial addressed all the issues associated with the current penalty corner or, for example, provided adequately for the unintentional and intentional offences which currently lead to this award. Further, there are many aspects of the current penalty corner which are considered to be attractive and relevant.

It was agreed that the Trial should not be continued but that the information gathered will influence future Rules development options. Those national associations who adopted the trial or who commented on it, are warmly thanked for their contributions.

Future challenges

The Rules Advisory Panel held its seventh meeting since it was established some five years ago in Paris in November. It has been decided that Rules development will be specifically included in the role of the Hockey Rules Board under the new FIH committee structure. Whether or not there will be a Panel giving special focus to this activity is not yet clear.
It is, therefore, perhaps timely to reflect on some of the rule changes which the Panel has influenced. They include: In developing these ideas, and others, the Panel has always tried to bear in mind certain aims. The game should be enjoyable to play and watch; it should be easily understood by players, umpires, spectators and the media; while safety, skill and fair play are paramount.

Panel members have brought unhindered, creative and free thinking to their work. A challenge for the future is to maintain these aims and to continue to be creative while also retaining the distinctive characteristics of our game. Some people think that it would be wise not to change our game very much and perhaps not at all. Others think we must respond to a society which is changing fast and which has different values, taking into account achievements in sport and the influence of the media. The Rules of Hockey are central to these views, not least because they affect every person playing the game. We recognise that the Rules developers and makers have challenging times ahead!.

Secretary Croft retires

The Paris meeting of the Hockey Rules Board was the last attended by George Croft as Secretary to the Board. George had held this post with distinction for thirty years. Many people paid tribute to his outstanding contributions. Until new appointments are made in April 2001, Roger Webb will take over as Secretary to the Board.

George Croft

The Years of Rule Changes recorded - an insight intoOutdoor and Indoor rules

To mark the centenary of the Hockey Rules Board (1900-2000), the International Hockey Federation has published a fascinating 20 page booklet, "Chronological Evolution of the Rules of Hockey". It has been researched and produced by Ernest Wall (Sco), Evlyn Raistrick (Sco)and George Croft (Eng). The booklet reveals the leading role played by the Board to ensure that hockey players at all levels have been able to enjoy their game under controlled, authoritative, yet user-friendly world-wide rules. It highlights the general changes to the Rules and, while it is not intended to be a complete list of all changes, it is not far short of that.

A set of rules was actually drawn up by several men's clubs in London in January 1876 following the establishment of the first, but short-lived, Hockey Association (England) the year before. Prior to that date the captains had agreed the rules under which each game was played, including the number of players per team which varied from eight to eleven.

An interesting rule, taken from the minute book of Surbiton Hockey Club, said: Rule 7. The ball may be stopped, but not carried or knocked, by any part of the body. No player shall raise his stick above his shoulder. The ball shall be played from right to left, and no left or back-handed play, charging, tripping, collaring (pulling a shirt) or shinning (hitting the leg), shall be allowed. The chronology starts with 1886 when one of the rules allowed hooking of sticks "but only within striking distance of the ball".

The International Rules Board (later the Hockey Rules Board) was formed on 23 April 1900 in London by the men's hockey associations of England, Ireland and Wales. The first meeting of the Board was held on 25 July 1900. Scotland joined the Board in 1902.

It was not until 1907 that umpires were allowed to apply the rules without waiting for an appeal. Prior to this time, appeals had to be made by players, before an umpire could give a decision. Some habits die hard. It was not until 1938 that any form of interference with the stick of an opponent, including hooking, forbidden. The use of any part of the body, except the hand, to stop the ball, was also precluded. The radius of the circle was increased from 15 to 16 yards in 1950 but this was not incorporated in the women's game until 1968.

The booklet is based on the rules for men's hockey and does not include details of the rules for women's hockey before the rules were combined into one common code.

Few people can remember what year many of the rules changed. This well presented booklet has nearly all the answers.

Indoor hockey

The story of The Rules of Indoor Hockey has also been produced. This has written by Ernest Wall (Scotland). The only rule book for indoor hockey up until 1966 was one produced by the German Hockey Association which was used in both East and West Germany and, after translation, by other European countries. Rene Frank, a former President of the FIH who was then Honorary General Secretary, persuaded the Germans to hand over responsibility for the rules to the FIH Indoor Hockey Committee in 1966. The first FIH Indoor Rules Book was published in three languages, German, French and English.

It was in 1968 that the FIH recognised the indoor game, decreeing in its Constitution that hockey included indoor hockey. It was not until 1988 that responsibility for the indoor rules was transferred to the Hockey Rules Board. The FIH Indoor Hockey Committee was abolished that year and the European Hockey Federation took control of competitions in Europe.

Indoor rules-2000

A new indoor Rules book has recently been published. This is the first full publication since 1996. It therefore incorporates minor changes which bring indoor more in line with outdoor hockey. However there are other changes which are more significant. For example, we have introduced the opportunity of advancing a free push by up to 5 metres when there is another offence. The new indoor book requires close study by all participants in the game.