It was a new look A Grade netball match in Round 18 as the Alinta Energy Gippsland League trialed rolling substitutes for the first time.
Morwell A Grade had already secured the minor premiership and were scheduled to play Sale in the Round 18 match. The League had flagged with clubs earlier in the year that it would trial the proposed rule introductions towards the end of the season. Both clubs were eager participants in the trial and embraced being the first two teams to be apart of the exciting new change.
The proposed changes, which will likely be implemented in 2023, will see all teams across the six grades of competition have access to substitutions during live play in matches. Currently teams are only allowed to make substitutions at quarter breaks and if there is a case of an injured player. The rolling substitutions will give the ability for the teams to make changes at any time during the match without halting the play.
Sale had the honor of implementing the first ever live substitute. A Grade coach Jo Ballinger who has worked under the rules in her Victorian Netball League commitments said “The changes are great for the clubs and the players. It allows coaches more flexibility to make changes. The rolling subs work great at VNL level and should be a big positive for the Gippsland League”
Morwell also embraced the new rules and are eager to see them introduced “It was actually a lot of fun. In the last quarter we trialed some players in new positions and the girls on the bench stayed more engaged with the game as they could be put back in at any time. We tried Shannon Freeman in the mid court, Court Garth as a shooter which is something we wouldn’t have been able to do under normal conditions” said coach Rachael Paterson
The Alinta Energy Gippsland League were at the match to ensure that the teams had support to operate under the proposed changes and to assist the coaches, team managers and scorers work through the administration side of the proposed changes.
“The rolling substitutes is a change that should be a great benefit for our community sporting players. The change fits in perfectly with the direction of the League’s newly implemented strategic plan in the areas of leadership and embracing change in the community sporting landscape” said Alinta Energy Gippsland League General Manager Daniel Heathcote
“It was great to see both Morwell and Sale embrace the trial. Both teams were utilizing their players in different positions and not having players be benched for large portions of the match. We hope in 2023 that it will allow clubs to have more participants in their teams, especially the junior sides and not have to turn players away due to lack of ability to promise playing time”
It is a change that the League was looking to implement in 2022, however off the back of the interrupted seasons the decision was made to trial and develop the administrative process for the updated rules with the view to permanently implementing in 2023.