The AFL has announced its rule changes. Picture: AAP Images
The AFL has announced its rule changes. Picture: AAP Images

Revealed: The nine AFL rule changes for 2019

PLAYERS will be permitted to play on from full back without tapping the ball onto the boot in one of nine rule changes approved by the AFL Commission.

As revealed by the Herald Sun today the AFL had abandoned its 18-metre goalsquare proposal but instead replaced it with a rule allowing players to run out of the goalsquare as soon as the goal umpire waves their flag.

The league believes it will allow clubs to strategise with innovative tactics that see them running out of the goalsquare then kicking long or even handballing to a teammate.

It means the rule which saw players penalised for stepping over the line has been abandoned.

The full forward defending the kick in must now be ten metres away from the top of the goalsquare, with an exclusion zone preventing players rushing in from the side of the goalsquare.

As AFL official David Rath said today: "This could revolutionise kick-in strategy."

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking said today all nine rule changes and interpretations had been approved by the commission and approved by the coaches.

"As AFL clubs do, they will innovate. It changes the landscape and it's pretty exciting to see how that unfolds."

The AFL has attempted to bring back the power forward by allowing players to hold their ground in marking contests as long as they do not shove out opponents with a double movement.

The likes of Tom Hawkins and Josh Jenkins will thrive after the abolition of the hands-in-the-back rule, introduced in 2006.

The AFL has also preserved the role of the ruckman in football by ensuring they can grab the ball out of a ruck contest without losing prior opportunity.

It means clubs will be reluctant to go into a game without two rucks or by conceding ruck contests because the opposing ruckman will take the ball from the ruck and play on.

It will mean the role of the Shaun Grigg-style 190cm ruckman will be put into jeopardy.

Clubs will need to set up in a 6-6-6 format at centre bounces with one player from each team in the goalsquare, meaning the wingman take up a more important role.

It will mean clubs can no longer flood the backline to protect a lead, with the AFL believing it will lead to more momentum swings in the game.

The rules for a 50m penalty have changed. Picture: Michael Klein
The rules for a 50m penalty have changed. Picture: Michael Klein


There are several rule interpretation changes designed to speed up the game, of in the phrasing of the AFL, give football a better balance between attack and defensive.

If a player is hemmed in with a free kick deep in defence next to the point post the defender must come back nine metres to hand them more space to kick long or laterally.

If a player is awarded a 50m penalty they can play on at any time as their opponent is marched back, with a rolling protected zone that allows them more space.

Their opponent cannot dawdle or delay, and if he falls behind the player awarded a 50m penalty as he is advancing up the ground he must leave the protected zone and allow another teammate to man the mark.

Players can also snap at goal with post-siren kicks as long as they set up five metres left of the mark then take their kick as they run over the mark.

Runners and water boys will only be allowed on the ground in the 45 seconds after a goal.

Players will also be banned from setting up behind umpires at centre bounces to stop the spate of umpire-player collisions.

Rule Change 1

Starting positions

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

Rule Change 2


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.

Rule Change 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.

Rule Change 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 role of the runner will change in 2019. Picture: Michael Klein
The role of the runner will change in 2019. Picture: Michael Klein

Rule Change 5

Umpire contact

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

Rule Change 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.

Rule Change 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. However, they must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.

Rule Change 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.

Rule Change 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.

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