Northern Tasmanian Football Association clears up 2017 finals qualification guidelines

2017 NTFA division 2 reserves premier Old Scotch.
2017 NTFA division 2 reserves premier Old Scotch.

SOME Northern Tasmanian Football Association clubs are scratching their heads over a switch in the interpretation of reserves player qualification guidelines for finals.

St Pats president Ian McCallum said he had written to the association and clubs seeking clarification on bylaw 6.8 in response to a meeting he had with the NTFA just hours before his division 2 reserves team’s six-point grand final loss to Old Scotch on Saturday.

It has long been the understanding that players must play at least five matches in the reserves and no more than half the season in the seniors to be eligible to play finals, however, it is understood the Thistles played a handful of players in the weekend’s decider that had not played five reserves matches.

Bylaw 6.8 reads: “Any player who has played in a total of more than 50 per cent of home and away matches of a higher grade or grades shall not be eligible to play final matches in a lower grade unless the higher and lower grades are played on the same day”.

Followed by 6.9: “Provided such player shall have been a member of such lower grade team in at least five home and away matches during the said season, except where the seniors and reserves teams from the one club are playing in the same final match on the same day or weekend”. NTFA president Paul Reynolds said the board had been approached to clarify the bylaw and explained that the law had not previously been correctly interpreted or applied.

“It’s (five) a minimum of club games, not whether they are reserves or seniors but if they had played more than half of the seniors games (nine) then they were not eligible unless the club has two team playing in the same final on the same day,” Reynolds said.

“The bylaw was challenged and questioned and on review that is what it states.

“We sent a clarification to all clubs in mid-August and all the clubs knew it was the case… and St Pats on the day of the grand final came to us to question the bylaw.”

McCallum said he has requested a meeting with the NTFA board to voice the club’s concerns and that “we cannot make any further comments in accordance with the NTFA’s bylaws, which we as a club are bound by”.

The rules as it stands by the NTFA’s reckoning has raised eyebrows in regard to senior players being able to drop back and take the spot of a reserves player that has played in the competition all season.

When asked if he thought the bylaw needed reviewing, Reynolds replied “yes I do, but we can’t change it during the playing season”.

“We are going to look at it,” he said.

South Launceston and Longford are set to clash in the division 1 reserves grand final at Windsor Park on Saturday and under the new interpretation, not what has long been applied, the Country Tigers can play seniors players that have not over-qualified and played at least five club games.

The Bulldogs have both seniors and reserves sides fighting it out so they are afforded the opportunity to select from a full squad.