The AFL has distributed to local leagues changes to the Laws of the Game and rule interpretation changes for the 2013 AFL season. As a general rule, to avoid confusion for players, umpires and supporters, if the rule changes are based on sound research, lead to a reduced likelihood of injuries or are improvements to the game, where we deem it appropriate the EFL will adopt these changes. For the 2013 season the changes that are applicable to Eastern Football League competitions and clarification of other rule interpretation differences are listed below.
1. Separation of Rucks
Ruckmen will now be separated at stoppages, with no contact permitted until after the ball leaves the umpire’s hand.
The principle of adjudicating ruck contests has always been that both ruckmen should have the opportunity to jump unimpeded at a ruck contest with the aim of hitting the ball to their teammate.
A trial was held in the AFL pre-season 2012 where the aim was to encourage rucks to play the ball and not the man, facilitate cleaner hitouts to advantage and improve clearance rates. Results showed significant improvements in clearances rates, secondary stoppages and reduced congestion, all areas that improved the flow of the game.
While a review of EFL games demonstrated the prevalence of holding and wrestling at ruck contests in EFL games appears lower than in the AFL (possibly due to umpires throwing the ball up in quicker time than the AFL bouncing), it still does occur, and when doing so is unsightly, difficult to umpire and generally results in further congestion.
The EFL Board has endorsed the adoption of this rule in all EFL competitions for season 2013.
The rule will be interpreted as follows:
- Field umpires ensure rucks are separated prior to the ball being brought back into play
- Prior to the ruck contest, umpires will ensure rucks are separated (approximately 1m apart)
- Umpires will call for ruck nomination if there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruck at the stoppage
- If a team fails to nominate a ruck in this situation the umpire can award a free kick for failing to follow an umpires instruction (Rule 15.5(e))
- Other players in the vicinity are not to block the run of the rucks
- Body contact permitted only after the ball is released by the boundary umpire at throw in or thrown up by the field umpire at throw up
- Rucks who initiate contact prior to the release of the ball by the umpire will be penalised with a free kick to the opposing ruck
- Third man up (tactic where a player other than the ruck jumps over the rucks and attempts to hit the ball clear from the stoppage) is still allowable under this interpretation
2. Forceful Contact Below the Knees
The AFL has advised that there will be a stricter interpretation of Rule 15.4.5 (a)(ii) Prohibited Contact, where a Free Kick is awarded for forceful contact below the knees. This is a rule that already exists and from our observations is being enforced by EFL umpires where a player makes
forceful contact below the knees.
Our intention is that no specific change to the interpretation of this rule will be made for season 2013. We do, however, want to ensure that players and coaches are aware that it is a rule where a free kick can be paid and that it can be a reportable offence where a player is deemed to have “taken out” an opposition player’s legs in a dangerous and forceful manner. Players should be coached to avoid the possibility of making contact in this manner (e.g. sliding in, diving directly into someone legs). Where contact is incidental and not forceful, but merely in the “act of play”, no free kick should be awarded.
3. Clarification of other rules
Below is some clarification of other rules either:
- Recently introduced, or
- Where the EFL has not adopted the AFL rule or
- Where the EFL interpretation differs from that of the AFL.