Adrian Anderson discusses the AFL rules on sliding

Clarification on Sliding Rules

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adrian Anderson, GM, AFL Football Operations

The Match Review Panel and Tribunal have recently made decisions in regards to players sliding knees or feet first into a contest and making contact with an opponent.

This practice has emerged recently and is increasing in prevalence.

In light of medical advice received that this is an extremely dangerous mechanism of injury and should be prohibited, the AFL Football Operations Department would like to further clarify how this action will be interpreted.

The 2012 Laws DVD which was presented to all AFL clubs earlier this year, referred to "the tactic of sliding into a contest" and stated:

  • Emerging dangerous tactic
  • Potential to cause serious injury
  • Free kick will be awarded
  • May be referred to the Match Review Panel 

In addition, the memo circulated by me on Friday 27 April provided clear information about what is prohibited when a player elects to slide into a contest:

"The action of sliding itself is not prohibited. However, players have a duty of care not to slide where it is reasonably foreseeable that this may cause injury to others. In particular players risk offending under the rough conduct rule if they slide: Feet or knees first where they should know contact to an opponent could result; or Late into a contest and with force (regardless of whether it is feet/knees first or not)."

In addition, Law 15.4.5(a)(ii) already states a prohibited contact free kick can be paid for making contact with an opposition player below the knees.

Umpires will pay free kicks in relation to sliding

AFL umpires have been instructed to fully enforce existing rules by paying free kicks against players who slide into contests feet or knees first or late when contact to an opponent occurs. Please note free kicks will be paid for feet/knees first contact even where the offending player is first to the ball (e.g Thomas or Broughton examples).

We are taking this action after consulting with the AFL Medical Directors and AFL Medical Officers Association who have shared with us their concerns about the practice of sliding into a contest (particularly feet or knees first), whether a player does so in the act of gaining possession or not.

Amendments to Laws in relation to sliding may be pursued

It is clear that under our present rules, sliding incidents involving Thomas and Broughton (while free kicks) are not considered Reportable Offences by the AFL Tribunal.

We will be monitoring and considering if formal amendments to the Tribunal Guidelines, Player Rules or Laws of the Game are warranted to address this issue. This will be done in consultation with the Laws of the Game Committee and Clubs.

As part of this process, we will continue to monitor the tactic of sliding and the player response on field to the enforcement of free kicks.  

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