The AFL Commission approved several changes to the Laws of the Game for the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, which will apply in the NAB Cup.
The key changes that now apply to the game are:
- Forceful Contact Below the Knees – A free kick will now be awarded against any player under existing Law 15.4.5 a (ii) Prohibited Contact, who makes forceful contact below the knees of an opponent (this does not apply to smothers with the hands or arms)
- Throw Ball Up Around the Ground - The bounce will continue to be used at the start of each quarter, and after goals, but umpires will now throw the ball up for all field stoppages during the game
- Ruckmen At Stoppages - Separation of ruckmen at stoppages, with no contact permitted until the ball has left the umpire's hand, to allow for a greater likelihood of the ball being cleared
The free kick for forceful contact below the knees was aimed to protect players from serious lower limb injuries such as broken legs, ankles and knee ACL injuries. The change to throw the ball up around the ground at stoppages has been introduced to help alleviate congestion by enabling play to be re-started more quickly.
The following rule interpretations have also been tightened to help alleviate congestion and encourage quick ball movement and genuine marking contests:
- Stricter enforcement of protected area around the player with the ball –
- a) if in protected area, opposition player must remain passive and
- b) can only enter protected area if within two metres of opponent (amended from five metres)
- Protect ball player by awarding a free kick for in the back or high contact against a player who sits or lies on top of a tackled opponent (having an arm across is permitted)
- Stricter interpretation of holding the ball where a player is tackled but doesn’t make a genuine attempt to kick or handball (including throwing/dropping/placing the ball)
- Free kick against a player for dragging or pushing the ball back under their opponent (as per previous NAB Cup trials)
- Paying free kicks for blocking infringements that interfere with marking contests and umpires to review their positioning to achieve a better balance between detecting infringements at stoppages and infringements occurring within the end zones
- Reduce time allowed for kick ins to five to six seconds (from when flags are waved) to be consistent with kicks around the ground