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Several months ago, the AFL announced new rule changes for 2019. Perhaps the most welcome change - for defenders at least - is the elimination of the hands in the back rule. No longer will a free kick be awarded to a player who simply places his hands on the back of his opponent. A push will still be penalized.

After a point is scored, players will now be allowed to run through the goal square and take off without having to kick the ball to themselves. They will also be allowed to handball the ball out from a behind instead of being restricted to just kicking it to themselves in the goal square or to a teammate. The opposition player standing at "the mark" in front of the goal square will be positioned 10 meters (11 yards) from the edge of the square rather than the previous five meters.

There will also be a new set up at center bounces. It will be a 6-6-6 set-up, which means all clubs must have six players in each area of the ground after a goal. Clubs must have six players inside both 50 meter (55 yards) arcs, with one player inside the goal square. Four midfield players must start inside the center square with the two men stationed along the wing. Other rules changes:

  • Marks and free kicks in defense: when defenders mark (catch the ball) or receive a free kick within nine meters of their own goal, the man on the mark will be brought in line with the top of the goal square.
  • Runners and water carriers: team runners will only be allowed to enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts. Water carriers will not be permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.
  • Umpire contact: players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at center bounces.
  • 50 meter (55 yards) penalties: the player with the ball will be allowed to advance the mark (where he caught the ball) by 50 meters without the infringing player permitted to delay the game. The player awarded the penalty will be allowed to play on while the 50 meters is being measured out by the umpire.
  • Kicking for goal after the siren: a player who has been awarded a mark (catch of the ball) or free kick once play has ended will be allowed to kick across their body using a snap or check-side kick, but he must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.
  • Marking contests: with the hands in the back rule scrapped, a player will now be allowed to place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest as long as he does not push his opponent.
  • Ruck contests, prior opportunity: a ruckman who takes direct possession of the ball from a bounce, throw-up or boundary throw-in will no longer be regarded as having had prior opportunity.
  • Designated ruckman: where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Article last changed on Monday, February 04, 2019 - 9:36 PM EST

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