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No more warnings on umpires' exit path

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UMPIRES will no longer advise players of their intended exit path at centre bounces and ball-ups as the AFL seeks to address increasing delays in restarting play. 

The AFL announced on Wednesday it had written to all clubs to advise them of the change, which will take effect from round nine.

AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking said the time taken to restart play at stoppages had been gradually increasing and all players should now be aware that umpires head straight back from any bounce or ball-up.

It was the responsibility of players to avoid this area at any stoppage, Hocking said.

The change comes after a recent spate of umpire contact charges against players, most notably against Tom Hawkins, Steven May, and Charlie and Ed Curnow.

AFL APPEALS: League challenges Curnow fines

From Friday night, field umpires will restart play when ready in order to keep the game moving, while in another change, boundary umpires will now throw the ball in after one look to gauge the correct direction unless directed by a field umpire to wait.

The League's memo to the clubs said that since the introduction of the 'designated ruck' rule in 2017 the time it had taken for umpires to throw the ball up at around-the-ground stoppages and throw the ball in from the boundary had increased.

"From round nine onwards, the field umpires will no longer tell players, 'I am backing out this way'. Instead, they will identify the designated rucks and then throw the ball up," the memo said.

"The umpire will back out in a straight direction after throwing the ball up. It is expected that all players will be aware of the direction that the field umpire will back out and not make any contact (or push opponents) into the umpire's path."

 

In regard to throw-ins, the memo stated: "Boundary umpires will be instructed to look once to ascertain the direction they need to throw the ball in (towards the centre of the ground) and then throw the ball back in."

"The only time that the boundary umpire will wait for a longer period of time will be when they are asked to wait longer by the field umpire."

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