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AFL caps interchange rotations at 120 per game

Ashley Browne  August 27, 2013 12:03 PM


Interchange rotations will be capped at 120 per team for the 2014 and 2015 seasons

THE AFL Commission has confirmed that a cap on interchange rotations will be introduced from next season.
Interchanges will be capped at 120 per game for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, based on a recommendation from the AFL's football operations department.
There will no cap on interchanges per quarter, with clubs to be left to monitor their total rotations over the entire four quarters.
The 120 limit will not include the use of the substitute or the changes made during breaks between quarters.

Clubs have averaged 133 interchanges per match so far in 2013.

The penalty for exceeding the 120 rotations per match would be a free kick and a 50-metre penalty against every additional rotation completed. This is the same penalty as when there were trial interchange caps during the pre-season.

The decision should be reasonably well received by clubs, after initial suggestions first mooted an 80-interchange cap. 

The AFL's new football operations manager, Mark Evans, oversaw this year's data gathering exercise and, given his background in club football operations, took a more pragmatic approach to the discussions about the cap.

It was always going to the case that the cap was introduced, but the intrigue was always over the figure.

“In 2012 and in the first half of 2013 interchange numbers averaged approximately 130 per game," Evans said.  

"Many in the industry have suggested interchange rotations had reached its natural maximum and that any further increases would be counter-productive. Over the past four-six weeks it appears that interchange numbers are once again on the rise, averaging 135-140 per game.”
Bringing in a cap preserves the current level and protects against further escalation, he said.

The Commission has also flagged a review of the number of officials on the ground during play, and will examine whether there needs to be changes to modify the role of on-field runners and trainers. 

The League will also consider easing the penalties for minor breaches of the interchange rule, particularly when players enter the ground fractionally early or just to the side of the interchange gates. At present, a free kick and a 50-metre penalty is paid for such infringements. 

The cap on interchanges was one of several key decisions to be made by the Commission during its two-day meeting that has largely been dominated by negotiations with Essendon over its 2012 supplements scandal.