Andrew Demetriou
Andrew Demetriou

The AFL have resisted the urge to change the current interchange system for next season, but have introduced a new rule that will prevent ruckmen from wrestling at stoppages.

The laws committee had recommended a cap of 90 interchanges per games to reduce congestion and lower injury rates.

But at its meeting on Monday, the AFL commission decided to wait another 12 months before implementing the rule with a cap on interchanges to be trialled at next year's NAB Cup.

"The commission is an independent body that takes a 'big picture' approach in overseeing the laws of our game," AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said on Tuesday.

"It has decided to assess another season with the current interchange rules in place, plus review the further trial of a cap in the 2013 NAB Cup before deciding whether to implement a change.

"This decision demonstrates the important oversight role the AFL Commission plays and underlines the robustness of the governance arrangements that apply to all significant long-term decisions affecting how our game is played."

However, the commission did approve three new rule changes for the home and away season next year.

The most contentious being the new ruck rule where ruckmen will not be able to make contact with each other until after the ball has left the umpires hand at a ball-up or boundary throw-in.

Umpires will now only bounce the ball to start the quarter or after a goal with stoppages around the ground to always be a ball-up.

"With this rule change we want to encourage rucks to play the ball and not the man as well as facilitate cleaner hit-outs to advantage and to assist clearance rates," AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson.

Finally, a free kick will now be paid against a player 'who makes forceful contact below the knees of an opponent'.

"Clubs and players have adapted well to the free kick for sliding knee- or feet-first this season and we have extended this to protect players from any forceful contact below the knees," Anderson added.

"In addition to the injury-prevention benefit, this change is also designed to encourage players to keep their feet and to assist in reducing congestion."


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