THE AFL will trial four field umpires rotating through the three on-field positions in all matches during the next three bye-affected rounds.
The move is a change from previous years, where four on-field umpires – up from the usual three – were used in the corresponding rounds.
This system was trialled in JLT Community Series matches in recent seasons, as well as a VFL game.
Some field umpires will officiate two games per round in this period.
AFL football boss Steve Hocking said the umpiring department, headed by Grant Williams and Damian Farrow, were keen to better understand the benefits of being able to flexibly manage the four umpires' match involvement.
All 18 clubs have been notified of the change, with the hope the trial will:
- Enable the collection of data and observations to help determine if this on-field umpiring model should be one considered for the future.
- Develop insights as to whether such a four-umpire model will enhance the career longevity of umpires.
- Potentially allow the best decision-making umpires the opportunity to officiate in multiple games should the model reduce the physical demands on a umpire.