England Hockey – No to rule changes

England Hockey have said they will not introduce the rule changes announced by the FIH which take place with effect from January 1 2019. Perhaps the most significant of these is the decision to do away with halves and have a match of 15-minute quarters.

England Hockey said it was not their policy to introduce changes midway through a season. They added: “The changes proposed by the FIH have far reaching implications for the grass roots of hockey and therefore we intend to seek clarification on the rationale behind the decision as well as understand the potential impact of the rule changes amongst participants and officials at all levels. We will communicate more about this in early 2019.”

The main recommended changes are as follows – the new FIH rules for 2019 can be downloaded here but matches in England will continue to be played under the existing rules for the remainder of the season.

  • The FIH has chosen to introduce the match format of four quarters as its standard. In international matches teams have been playing four quarters for some years and it is felt that more  uniformity in match formats can be achieved when all match formats are based on a four quarter principle. Like in international matches time is stopped between the awarding of a penalty corner and the taking of that penalty corner. Other than in International matches where this is arranged in the FIH Tournament Regulations, time is not stopped to celebrate goals as this was introduced primarily for television coverage.
  • A mandatory experiment is introduced with effect from 1 January 2019 taking out the option for teams to play with a Field Player with Goalkeeping Privileges. Teams have now two options : they either play with a Goalkeeper who wears protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers and who is also permitted to wear goalkeeping hand protectors and other  protective equipment, or they play with Field Players only. Any change between these options should be treated as a substitution.  This mandatory experiment leads to changes in many other Rules as the option to play with a Field Player with Goalkeeping privileges is taken out.
  • The explanation how to treat free hits for the attacker close to the circle has been changed in Rules 13.2.f. It has now been made clear that players other than the attacker taking the free hit, must be at five metres distance, including when they are in their circle. If the attacker however chooses to take the free hit immediately, then defenders who are inside the circle and within five metres from the ball, may shadow around the inside of the circle as per the explanation of the Rule before 2019.
  • As in Indoor Hockey a defender may now take a free hit awarded in the circle anywhere inside the circle or up to 15 metres from the back-line in line with the location of the offence, parallel to the  side-line.
  • Rule 13.6 that described the completion of a penalty corner for substitution purposes and for a penalty corner at the end of a period, was deleted. The option that a penalty corner is completed when the ball travels outside the circle for the second time, no longer exists.