We Rank The Nine New AFL Rule Changes From 'Hell Yeah!' To 'WTF'?

The AFL has made a bunch of rule changes, as it threatened to do all season. Here they are and here's what people think about them:



  • 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.

WE SAY: Hell yeah!

This is the biggie. It does away with the proposed 18m goal square, an idea most people hated. While some think that moving the man on the mark back 5m will effectively make the goal square invisible, this new rule will definitely help players kick to less congested areas on restarts, which is what the 18m concept was all about.

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.

WE SAY: Genius

More and more players in the modern game are better kicking around the body than kicking directly for goal from a front-on position. In the past, the round-the-corner kickers were needlessly punished. Not anymore.

Traditional playing positions at centre bounces


  • Clubs must have six players inside both 50m arcs, with one player inside the goalsquare.
  • Four midfield players must start inside the centre square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.

WE SAY: Makes sense

Will help prevent crowding and stoppages after the centre bounce. A lot of fans are resistant to the whole 6-6-6 concept, but dare we say it, there's nothing too devilish to fear here.

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.

WE SAY: Nice

Should help stop the ball go up the centre corridor rather than being trapped on the flanks. All fans want to see this.

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.

WE SAY: Overdue

The fewer people on the field, the better. Pretty sure a certain Collingwood runner wishes this rule had been introduced last season.

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.

WE SAY: Well, here's the thing

It's the right rule, but the interpretation is going to be absolute hell for the first few seasons at least, and perhaps evermore. At what point exactly does the placement of hands become a push? Good luck, maggots.

Umpire contact


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


A minor but sensible change.

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.

We say: Hmmm

Nice idea in theory, as ruckmen have done it tough on this front for years, but we're not sure it'll help increase the flow of the game, which is what most of these rules are designed to do.

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.


A reasonable idea, but we don't understand how this will work. How will anyone know whether the player is playing on or following the ump to the mark?