The AFL today wrote to all clubs to advise the AFL Commission had approved a package of rule changes and interpretations to be implemented in the 2019 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.

The package of changes are the result of nearly 12 months of analysis and consultation with current and past players, coaches, umpires, clubs and fans, and are designed to protect and enhance the unique characteristics of the game.

The AFL’s Game Analysis Team via the new Competition Committee considered ten years of data and insights, and identified trends that are shaping the way the game is played.

AFL General Manager Football Operations Steve Hocking said the game was loved by generations of fans for its speed and athleticism, and the rule changes and new interpretations would ensure that the essential elements of AFL were protected.

“We have listened to our fans, players, coaches, umpires and clubs. The rule changes and interpretations protect and respect the traditions of Australian Football while progressing our game,” Mr. Hocking said.

“We all want more of what makes our game great – free flowing passages of play, one-on-one contests, and players having space to play on instinct.

“These changes are about giving players the best chance to play the best game, and giving the fans more of what they love,” Mr. Hocking said.

The Commission has accepted the following rules changes and interpretations:

Rule Changes and Interpretations:

Traditional Playing Positions at Centre Bounce
Implementation of a traditional set up at centre bounces – Clubs must have six Players inside both 50-Metre arcs, with one Player required to be inside the Goal Square. Four Midfield Players are positioned inside the Centre Square with the Wingmen required to be placed somewhere along the Wing.

For Kick-Ins from a Behind, a Player will no longer need to kick to himself to Play On out of the Goal Square.
Following a Behind, the man on The Mark will be positioned 10 metres from the top of the Goal Square (currently 5 metres).

Marks / Free Kicks:
For all Defenders who take a Mark or gain a Free Kick within 9 metres of their own Goal, the man on The Mark for the attacking team will be brought in line with the top of the Goal Square.

Runners and Water Carriers
Team Runners may only enter the Playing Surface once a goal has been kicked and must exit the Playing Surface before play Recommences.
Water Carriers are not permitted to enter the Playing Surface during live play.

Umpire Contact
Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the Umpire at each Centre Bounce.

50-Metre Penalty
Stricter on the infringing player, allowing the Player with the ball to advance The Mark by 50 metres without the infringing player delaying the game.
In addition, the Player with the Football will be able to play on during the advancement of the 50-Metre Penalty.

Kicking for Goal post-siren – Centre of Goal Line
A Player who has been awarded a Mark or Free Kick once play has ended will now be able to Kick across their body using a Snap or Check-side Kick. The Player shall dispose of the Football directly in line with the man on The Mark and the Goal.

Marking Contest
‘Hands in the Back’ rule interpretation to be repealed, allowing a Player to place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a Marking contest but not to push the Player in the back.

Ruck Contests – Prior Opportunity
A Ruck Player who takes possession of the Football while contesting a bounce or throw up by a field Umpire or a boundary throw in by a boundary Umpire, will not be regarded as having had Prior Opportunity. Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated Ruck, the Ruck for each Team will continue to nominate to the field Umpire.

Mr. Hocking, the Game Analysis team and the Competition Committee have been guided by widespread industry consultation with Clubs, the AFLPA, AFL Coaches Association, AFL Medical Officers, key industry groups, dedicated club training sessions, in-game trials at state league level and fan research, before making its recommendations to the Commission.

“I wish to particularly thank the Competition Committee for their investment in the large body of work that has been undertaken through the 2018 year, and the efforts of the Department’s Game Analysis Team.

“I’d also like to thank the past and current coaches, players and umpires that have provided our team with valuable insights about the game during the past six months,” Mr. Hocking said.

The AFL will continue to work with State Leagues and community football Leagues across the country regarding the implementation of these rule changes and interpretations.