AFL bids to ar­rest low scor­ing games with nine rule changes

The Guardian Australia - - Front Page - Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press

The AFL says it has lis­tened to fans and will in­tro­duce nine rule changes next year to pro­duce more free-flow­ing foot­ball and make the game a bet­ter spec­ta­cle.

AFL gen­eral man­ager of foot­ball op­er­a­tions Steve Hock­ing said the new rules were shared with AFL coaches 10 days ago and were well-sup­ported and he felt that fans would feel sim­i­larly.

“We have taken good care of the game and lis­tened to what fans have had to say,” Hock­ing said on Thurs­day. “We’ve done ex­ten­sive work in in­ter­view­ing fans and it’s all wrapped up in this – it’s not about one in­di­vid­ual look­ing af­ter the game, it’s about a group of peo­ple.”

The changes come af­ter a 10 month anal­y­sis of the game and con­sul­ta­tion with cur­rent and past play­ers, coaches, um­pires and fans. The tweaks are de­signed to ar­rest some of the low-scor­ing foot­ball of the past five sea­sons.

One no­table omis­sion is the pro­posed change to the goal­square to 18m, with the AFL com­mis­sion in­stead in­tro­duc­ing two rules changes that will give play­ers more space and time at kicksins.

Un­der the changes, the man on the mark will be po­si­tioned an ex­tra five me­tres back at kick-ins and play­ers will be able to play on from the goal­square with­out first kick­ing the ball to them­selves.

“We’ve ad­vanced it be­yond the 18m,” Hock­ing said. “This op­tion re­ally chal­lenges the de­fen­sive op­tions within the game as there’s mul­ti­ple op­tions avail­able to the player to be able to put the ball back into play.

“Not only have we cov­ered off the abil­ity to kick the ball a greater dis­tance but you can also take the game

on by step­ping out­side the goal­square and play­ing on with free­dom.”

Among the other changes, the hands-in-the-back rule will be scrapped while “tra­di­tional” play­ing po­si­tions will be en­forced at cen­tre bounces, with six play­ers re­quired to start in the two 50m arcs and four in the cen­tre square zone, with two on the wings. Each team will need to start with one player in­side each goal­square.

Play­ers will also be given more space to take their kick af­ter mark­ing or re­ceiv­ing a free kick deep in de­fence, and the free­dom to play on af­ter re­ceiv­ing a 50m penalty.

“The changes are about en­hanc­ing what’s great about the game – the fast and open na­ture of the game, the unique skills of the play­ers and we’re also look­ing to even up the of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive strate­gies,” Hock­ing said.

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