The AFL has today written to Club General Managers of Football and Senior Coaches outlining tighter interpretations of existing rules relating to Time Delay and Holding the Ball ahead of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
This follows in-depth game analysis across the course of the 2021 season and comes after meetings with each AFL Club led by Executive General Manager Football Andrew Dillon and General Manager Football Brad Scott held across November and December last year.
In summary, the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season will see the following:
- In 2022, Umpires will be less lenient towards Players who deliberately delay the play. A Free Kick or 50-Metre Penalty will be awarded under existing Law 19.2 (f).
- In 2022, Umpires will no longer give a warning to Players who deliberately engage in Time Wasting and a Free Kick will be awarded under existing Law 18.13 (d).
Holding the Ball
- In 2022, Umpires will be less lenient towards Players who have had Prior Opportunity and do not immediately and Correctly Dispose of the Football when they are Legally Tackled under existing Law 18.6.2.
- In 2022, a Free Kick will be awarded against a Player who ducks their head prior to being Legally Tackled and does not immediately and Correctly Dispose of the Football. Umpire cues for Prior Opportunity includes: evading, fending, ducking, has a prior option (i.e. goes to handball / kick and decides not to), is balanced and steady, is awarded a mark or free-kick, or drives their head.
AFL Executive General Manager Andrew Dillon said the league looked forward to 2022 being a year of consolidation on the field despite the constantly changing environment off the field as a result of the pandemic.
"Firstly, I want to acknowledge the dedication of everyone in the football community in supporting the 2022 NAB AFL Women's Competition," Mr Dillon said.
"We are proud to have had the NAB AFLW Competition kick off the football calendar strongly and welcome fans back to games in 2022. To see the standard of footy on display in the openings rounds and the emerging talent making an immediate impact on the competition is very exciting for football and highlights the continued progression of AFLW.
"In the last week, players from AFL men's programs returned to the training track and those players, along with fans across the country, are excited for the AFL season to commence in a couple of months.
"We are looking forward to 2022 being a year of consolidation and, as such, want to reinforce there would be no material rule changes introduced for the men's competition this season. Following meetings with each of the 18 AFL Clubs across November and December last year, we have worked closely as a Football Operations and Umpiring Department to tighten up on the interpretations of existing rules relating to Time Delay and Holding the Ball.
"In relation to time delay, there will be less leniency towards players who delay play and, secondly, with holding the ball there will be less leniency towards players who have had prior opportunity and do not immediately dispose of the football.
"The tightening up of these existing rules comes after the Game Analysis team, made up of AFL and AFL Club staff, identified trends in the way the game was being played and umpired in the AFL and aims to deliver a game that is played and umpired in line with the spirit and intention that is consistent with the Laws of Australian Football.
"AFL umpires have also resumed training and we commend their commitment and professionalism as we worked through these interpretations as a collective. Last year, AFL umpires took part in over 500 club visits across the pre-season period which was beneficial to both players and umpires. We will continue that connection between AFL umpires and AFL Clubs in the lead up to games in 2022."
The AFL’s Game Analysis Team will continue to analyse data, insights and identify trends that are shaping the way the game is played in the AFL and AFLW competitions.
The rules, as written in the Laws of Australian Football and referred to above, can be found below:
The wording of the law refers to where a field Umpire is of the opinion that a Player is unnecessarily causing a delay in play.
19.1 Spirit and Intention
After a Mark or Free Kick has been awarded to a Player, a Fifty-Metre Penalty will be awarded against the opposing Team which delays or impedes the play, or behaves in an unsportsmanlike manner.
19.2 When Imposed
Where a field Umpire has awarded a Mark or Free Kick to a Player, or a Player is preparing to bring or bringing the football back into play after a Behind is scored, a Fifty-Metre Penalty in favour of that Player will be awarded if the field Umpire is of the opinion that any Player or Official from the opposing Team:
(f) engages in any conduct which delays or impedes the play; or
A field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against a Player who:
(d) engages in Time Wasting
HOLDING THE BALL
18.6.1 Spirit and Intention
The Player who has Possession of the Football will be provided an opportunity to dispose of the football before rewarding an opponent for a Legal Tackle.
18.6.2 Free Kicks - Holding the Ball: Prior Opportunity
Where a Player in Possession of the Football has had Prior Opportunity, a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick if that Player does not Correctly Dispose of the football immediately when they are Legally Tackled.