By ZAC MILBANK
A raft of rule changes, in line with the majority of the AFL’s adjustments, will be rolled out for the first time when the 2019 SANFL Statewide Super League kicks off this weekend.
The introduction of a restriction on starting positions before each centre bounce, increased freedom from kick-ins and the repealing of the ”hands in the back” rule in marking contests highlight the new laws which were ratified by the SA Football Commission.
SANFL General Manager Football Adam Kelly said SANFL’s Laws of the Game Committee believed the rule changes would enhance those introduced by SANFL in 2016, – such as the successful last possession out of bounds rule and interchange rotation cap.
Kelly said the committee supported the objectives that led to the introduction of change by the AFL.
“These changes in match conditions respond to fans wanting free-flowing passages of play and one-on-one contests, and they support more instinctive play and players being able to showcase their skills and differences,” Kelly said.
The SANFL competition has transitioned from the low scoring, high stoppage numbers of season 2015.
“Stoppage numbers have decreased over the past three years, with the average number dropping to 60 in 2018 from 84 in 2015,” Kelly said.
“In comparison to other State Leagues, we have gone from the highest number of stoppages to the lowest and from the lowest scoring to the highest. This year’s Grand Final was the highest scoring in 35 years.”
Some rules will continue to differ between the AFL competition and SANFL, including the last possession out of bounds rule.
Kelly said SANFL would also continue to use the 25m penalty and have a cap of 60 on interchange rotations (as opposed to the AFL competition cap of 90).
Details of the rule changes follow:
Implementation of a traditional set up at centre bounces – clubs must have six players inside both 50-Metre arcs, with one player required to be inside the goal square. Four midfield players are positioned inside the centre square with the wingmen required to be placed somewhere along the wing (no closer to either goal than the centre square line).
Kick-ins from a Behind, a Player will no longer need to kick to himself to Play On out of the Goal Square.
Following a Behind, the man on The Mark will be positioned 10 metres from the top of the Goal Square (currently 5 metres).
No opposition player can enter the area shown with the dotted line until the designated kicker has played on or been called to play on from the goal square. Any opposition player already in the area when the behind is scored must be actively exiting the area.
For all defenders who take a mark or gain a free kick within 9 metres of their own goal, the man on the mark for the attacking team will be brought in line with the top of the goal square (which is 9 metres).
Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the Umpire at each centre bounce.
Allowing the player with the ball to advance the mark by 25 metres without the infringing player delaying the game.
In addition, the player with the football will be able to play on during the advancement of the 25-metre penalty.
A Player who has been awarded a mark or free kick once play has ended will now be able to kick across their body using a snap or check-side kick. The player shall dispose of the football directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.
‘Hands in the Back’ rule interpretation to be repealed, allowing a player to place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest but not to push the player in the back.
A Ruck player who takes possession of the football while contesting a bounce or throw up by a field Umpire or a boundary throw in by a boundary Umpire, will not be regarded as having had prior opportunity. Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated Ruck, the Ruck for each team will continue to nominate to the field Umpire. SANFL Rules still permit a ”third man” contesting the ruck contest.