AFL modifies reserves' anti-density rules

·2-min read

The AFL has softened the experimental anti-density rules in the VFL that drew the ire of several prominent head coaches.

The anti-density rules had been trialled in VFL practice matches ahead of their planned introduction and were designed to open up play and reduce congestion, while promoting one-on-one contests in traditional field positions.

At boundary throw-ins and kick-ins, three players from each team had been required to be inside each 50m arc, including one in the goal square.

But the changes also resulted in players, especially key forwards and defenders, running fewer kilometres than they would at AFL level, along with frequent delays in play as umpires ensured players were in position.

Damien Hardwick, David Teague, Luke Beveridge and David Noble were among the rules' most vocal critics - with particular ire directed at the requirement for players to be in the goal square.

On Wednesday, the AFL confirmed the reset rule would no longer apply to kick-ins, while only two players from each team will need to be inside each 50m arc at boundary throw-ins with no player required to be in the goal square.

It means at boundary throw-ins, the officiating umpire won't restart play until all players are in position.

If a team fails to have their players in place within 12 seconds, a free kick will be awarded to an opposition player at the point of the stoppage.

"After continued analysis of more than 20 VFL practice matches held over recent weeks, the AFL has assessed the impact of the changes - as a whole - and has taken on board the feedback from key stakeholders, including players and umpires participating in the games," the AFL said in a statement.

"To ensure ease of implementation and support the flow of the game, the adjustment will be introduced ahead of this weekend's practice matches and will be in place for the 2021 VFL competition, commencing Friday April 16."