Contributed by: Matt Morris
As many may be aware, the Australian Football League has decided to speed up the great game, after analysis has shown stoppage time has increased in recent years. But it isn’t only the sport's major league that it affects. It affects the whole Australian Footballing world, with most leagues in Australia and around the world following the AFL's lead.
The changes have made headlines after players in the AFL including St Kilda captain–in-waiting Luke Ball and several leading coaches questioned the need for such changes, and questioned if they were made in the light of the Socceroos' (Australian national soccer team) qualification for the World Cup, worrying that Soccer will boom.
The changes are as follows:
1 - Removing the requirement for defensive players to wait until the flags have been waved after a point has been scored, before bringing the ball back into play;
2 - Allowance of a shot for goal to be taken from directly in front of the goal for any mark taken, or free kick awarded, within the goal square;
3 - Automatic re-start of time-on from the time the umpire crosses arms to when the ball is bounced.
Further, the AFL Umpires will also be instructed on a number of interpretation changes to be introduced for the start of the 2006 season, as follows:
1 - Limit the time for players to line up for set shots to 30 seconds;
2 - Reduced tolerance of holding players up after a mark or free kick;
3 - Quicker boundary throw-ins;
4 - Less time taken to award a 50m penalty;
5 - Stricter interpretation of the deliberate out of bounds law;
6 - Stricter policing of holding and blocking in marking contests;
7- Greater focus on detecting infringements by tagging players.
Most leagues right around the globe follow the AFL rules, from juniors to seniors. Whilst the changes will encourage more international athletes to favour our great game, Richmond coach Terry Wallace, said that with bringing the ball back into play that the game could become like basketball, with defensive structures trying to prevent the ball rebounding out of the forward 50 quickly.
What we do know though is that our game of Australian Football will change, and hopefully for the better. We'll soon find out with the 2006 season just around the corner. Perhaps the LA Challenge in the US will be the first time we see the new rules in action.
World Footy News