'Dumbest thing I've heard': Fans blast AFL's proposed rule changes

The AFL’s competition committee has pressed ahead with a set of radical rule changes that is set to shake up the AFL.

Among the changes, two in particular have caused concern and been slammed by fans on social media – introducing a 6-6-6 positioning rule for centre bounces, and doubling the length of the goal square.

The rule changes are not set in stone, but the AFL competition committee will present their final recommendations to the AFL Commission for review.

Much to the dismay of an overwhelming number of fans, and former players.

The introduction of the position rule as well as doubling the length of the goal square, had both been trialled in VFL matches this season to differing interpretations of success.

Steve Hocking, AFL football operations manager, was the one to confirm the rule changes and tweaks as presented by the committee:

– A 6-6-6- positioning rule for centre bounces

– Doubling the goal square size (from nine metres to 18m)

– Only allowing runners on the field after goals

– Tightening up of rule interpretations (including incorrect disposal)

Sam McClure noted that while they are only suggestions to open the game back up, “there’s no reason to believe the commission won’t tick off on the recommendations made by the competition committee,” he said on SEN.

“The 6-6-6 set-up at all centre bounces. So there will be six from each team in each 50m arc and one in the goal square. Wingers can be anywhere along the side of the centre square for the bounce but they have to be on the centre square.

“The goal square to be extended to 18 metres, a restriction to runners for them only to be allowed on the ground after goals and there’s also going to be a tightening of up to eight of the rule interpretations, and the most prominent in that will be the incorrect disposal, which I believe will be tightened.”

Steve Hocking (right) presented the final recommendations by the AFL competition committee. Pic: Getty

The commission will discuss the proposals at its next meeting on the day of the Brownlow Medal, with any changes made official by next month.

“It’s the commission’s decision from here,” said AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking.

“It’s been pretty obvious – the main things have been the 6-6-6 centre bounce set up (and) the goalsquare.”

The main aim of 6-6-6 – which sees teams having six players in each of their defensive and forward arcs and six in the midfield at each centre bounce – and the larger goalsquare, is to reduce congestion.

Hocking said scoring was up 15 per cent across the three trial games and tackling went down by 14 per cent.

“As far as midfielders go (with 6-6-6), there was more time – seconds longer – for decision making,” Hocking said.

“If we showed you the vision, you’d be surprised with the difference it makes – that person coming off the square is no longer there.

“How do we prise the game open and have risk v reward? We want to see more volatile space.”

The 6-6-6 rule means the two wingmen must start each centre bounce on the edge of the centre square, plus at least one player must be in the goal square.

The eight rule interpretations are part of a project where the competition committee hopes to halve the size of the game’s rule book over the next 12 months.

But Hocking said the controversial ruck nomination process is likely to stay “unless you have something you can throw at me that blows us away”.

The competition committee also wants to crack down on incorrect disposal under the holding the ball rule.

“The player who’s actually contesting the ball, that person has to be protected, definitely,” Hocking said.

“Incorrect disposal is the issue we have … that’s crept into the game.

“We’re not going to sit idle and let players throw the ball ”

There will be tighter restrictions on team runners and water carriers, with the committee keen to keep them off the ground during play.

with AAP.