'Incompetent AFL': Fans slam rule change compromise

The AFL has resisted increasing the nine-metre goal square to 18 metres but has introduced nine rule changes that will come into play in 2019.

Among the changes, there will be an implementation of a traditional set-up at centre bounces while for kick-ins from a behind players will no longer need to kick to themselves.

The man on the mark will be positioned 10 metres from the top of the goal square, double the current demand.

The goal square is effectively redundant for the purpose of kick-ins, though it is still required for the new 6-6-6 setup at centre bounces and other rules such as set shots from straight in front if the ball is marked in the square.

Fans reacted strongly to the change, with some claiming the AFL threatened the 18m goal square on purpose:
















The AFL says the rule changes were necessary to promote high-scoring football.

New rules and interpretation changes for 2019

1. Traditional playing positions at centre bounces

Clubs must have six players inside both 50m arcs, with one player inside the goal square.

Four midfield players must start inside the centre square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.

2. Kick-ins

At kick-ins, a player will no longer need to kick to himself to play on from the goalsquare.

Following a behind, the man on the mark will be brought out to 10m from the top of the goalsquare, rather than the existing five metres.

3. Marks and free kicks in defence

When defenders mark or receive a free kick within nine metres of their own goal, the man on the mark will be brought in line with the top of the goalsquare.

4. Runners and water carriers

Team runners may only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts.

Water carriers are not permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.

The 18m goal square was trialled in the VFL but abandoned by the AFL. Pic: Getty

5. Umpire contact

Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at centre bounces.

6. 50m penalties

The player with the ball:

Must be allowed to advance the mark by 50m without the infringing player delaying the game.

Will be able to play on while the 50m penalty is being measured out.

7. Kicking for goal after the siren

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 but must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.

8. Marking contests

The ‘hands in the back’ rule interpretation has been repealed so a player can now:

Place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest provided he does not push his opponent in the back.

9. Ruck contests: prior opportunity

A ruckman who takes direct possession of the ball from a bounce, throw-up or boundary throw-in will no longer be regarded as having had prior opportunity.

Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.