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Thursday, January 28 2021 @ 09:01 am ACDT

AFL introduces two new laws for 2009 season

General NewsThe AFL Commission today approved the immediate introduction of two Laws of the Game for the upcoming 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, after a trial period through the 2009 NAB Cup and NAB Challenge matches. AFL Football Operations Manager Adrian Anderson, Chairman of the Laws of the Game Committee, said the Commission had approved the introduction of two rules trialled through this year's pre-season matches at its monthly meeting in Melbourne today:

a) A free kick can now be awarded for deliberate rushed behinds -- the benefit of the doubt will be given to the defender;

b) Umpires to award a 50 metre penalty against players who tackle, hold or make high contact against an opponent after the opponent has disposed of the football, for the purpose of preventing them from taking part in the next contest;

The trial rule regarding a no-go zone behind umpires at centre bounces will not be introduced in the 2009 Toyota AFL Premiership season but Mr Anderson said the current laws regarding contact with an umpire, where a player can be free-kicked or reported for making contact, would be strictly enforced to protect the safety of umpires. Mr Anderson said the AFL Laws Committee and the Football Operations Department had consulted extensively with the 16 AFL Clubs and the coaching and player groups since early September, and had again sought their feedback through this month after the rules had been trialled through the pre-season.

The AFL Umpiring Department was of the view that the AFL senior umpiring list had adapted well during the pre-season trial and were properly prepared for the introduction of each new rule. "The Commission's view was that the deliberate rushed behind rule and the 50m penalty for tackling a player after disposal rule had worked well in the pre-season period, and would benefit the game," Mr Anderson said. "The quality of football that has been played over the 2007 and 2008 seasons has been outstanding, and the AFL remains committed to ensuring the game remains an exciting and free flowing spectacle.

“The Laws Committee has been monitoring the increasing trend of deliberate rushed behinds in recent seasons and last year, the clear majority of coaches indicated that deliberate rushed behinds would continue to increase and supported the trial of a rule to discourage the tactic.” “The strong feedback the AFL received was that more and more deliberate rushed behinds would occur if the rule was not changed. The clear majority of coaches, players and fans expressed the view that the new rule would benefit the game.

Mr Anderson said the NAB Cup trial rule repeatedly demonstrated that defenders could keep the ball in play, and take the ball out of defence, rather than killing the contest and conceding a point. This saw a greater number of contests around the goalmouth. Mr Anderson said the introduction of a 50 metre penalty, in addition to a free kick, for a player held or dragged down after he had disposed of the ball, was to head off a growing trend whereby players were being taken to ground to prevent them from being involved in the next act of play.

Mr Anderson said the interpretation of the rule regarding a free kick for a deliberate rushed behind would be as per the instructions issued to clubs and media in the pre-season briefings from the AFL Umpiring Department, and highlighted on the 2009 AFL Umpiring DVD. Further examples from the 2009 NAB Cup will be immediately made available to AFL clubs.

In summary, the benefit of the doubt will be given to a defender who is under direct pressure in a contest, or whose primary objective is to spoil or touch the ball before it goes through for a goal.

The new laws read, in full:

A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player from the defending Team who intentionally Kicks, Handballs or forces the football over the attacking Team’s Goal Line or Behind Line or onto one of the attacking Team’s Goal Posts. In assessing whether a Free Kick should be awarded under this Law, the field Umpire shall give the benefit of the doubt to the Defender. A Free Kick awarded under this Law shall be taken at the point where the football crossed the Goal Line or Behind Line or from the relevant Goal Post.

Interpretation: When an Umpire is determining whether to award a free kick for a deliberate rushed behind the considerations are:

· What is the player’s intention?

· Is the player contesting the ball?

· What is the degree of pressure the player is under?

· Was there a team mate in the vicinity of where the ball crossed the scoring line?

For clarification:

· Players who are contesting the ball in a marking contest or in general play may punch or knock the ball away from their opponents to prevent them from gaining possession of the football or from scoring. This will not be deemed to be deliberately rushed.

· Where a player is in possession of the football and is tackled near the scoring line, he must dispose of or attempt to dispose of the ball in complying with the laws of the game. A player will receive the benefit of the doubt in this situation.

(b) If a field Umpire is satisfied that a Player tackles, holds or makes high contact against a Player who has disposed of the football for the purpose of preventing that Player from being able to run to the next contest then, if it is a greater penalty than would otherwise be provided by Law 15.10(a), the field umpire shall award a free kick and a 50 metre penalty to that Player’s team.

The Laws Committee consists of Adrian Anderson (Chairman), Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Brendon Gale, Matthew Pavlich, Rowan Sawers, Michael Sexton and Andrew McKay.
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