Footy’s nearly back, and there are a number of rule changes being implemented by the AFL in 2019.
A couple of these have received a lot of attention, but there’s actually nine distinct changes that have been made. We’ve summarised them below.
Rule Change #1: 6-6-6 at centre bounces
At centre bounces, teams must have:
- Six players in each 50-metre arc
- One player in each goalsquare
- Four players in the centre square (unchanged)
- One player on each wing (cannot be forward or behind the centre square)
Rule Change #2: Man on the mark
When a defender takes a mark or gets a free kick within nine metres of goal, the man on the mark (the attacker) will be brought back in line with the top of the goalsquare. This allows the defender more space to take his kick, hopefully creating more of an angle to attack through the corridor.
Rule Change #3: Kick-ins (after a behind)
- The player kicking in can now play on directly from the goalsquare – no requirement to kick to himself
- The man on the mark will be ten metres from the top of the goalsquare, rather than five metres.
Rule Change #4: Ruck contest (prior opportunity)
Ruckmen who elected to take possession of the ball directly from a ruck contest (a ball-up or throw in) were previously adjudged as having had prior opportunity to dispose, and were thus liable to a holding-the-ball penalty if immediately tackled. This will no longer be the case.
Rule Change #5: Umpire contact (no-go zone)
This primarily concerns umpires moving backwards after the centre bounce, where many umpire contact incidents occur.
- Umpires may vary their approach and exit angle from the bounce, should it be clear players are favouring certain positions at the centre bounce. They’ll make this clear to players prior to the bounce
- Free kicks against will be paid for careless contact with umpires
- Free kicks against will be paid for pushing an opponent into the umpire’s path, where the offence and offender is clearly identifiable
Rule Change #6: 50-metre penalties
- The player with the ball (the beneficiary of the 50-metre penalty) may now advance the mark by 50 metres without waiting for the opponent to make his way to the new mark.
- The player with the ball may play on at any time while the mark is being advanced.
Rule Change #7: Post-siren set shots
A player taking a set shot after the siren may approach his kick from any angle, in order to kick the ball across their body with a snap or banana / checkside kick. The player must only kick the ball directly in line with the goal and the man on the mark.
Rule Change #8: Hands in the back
The “hands-in-the-back” interpretation to pushing in the back, in place for around ten years, has been abolished. Players may now place their hands in an opponent’s back in a contest, but not push.
Rule Change #9: Runners and water carriers
Runners and water carriers may only enter the field of play after a goal has been kicked, and must leave the field prior to the re-commencement of play.
What Does It Mean For Punters?
As usual, we’re most interested in what the impact will be on betting.
Almost all the changes are designed with a few goals in mind:
- To make the game move faster
- To open up the field and give players more room to move and dispose of the ball
- To make it easier for teams to attack quickly through the centre corridor
- To increase scoring
- To reward marking players in contests
With such a focus on scoring, we spoke to our AFL analyst Brett on what the impact may be on punting this year:
“You’d have to say total match points will increase. However, we need to be really wary as bookmakers may bake it into their prices, but they could even over-compensate. Then the market gets hold of it three days out from game time and might even take it further. So there’s a lot of considerations to be taken into account going into this season: not only the impact, but how bookies and early punters are going to price it in.
“Player bets are another very interesting one. The distribution of statistics could well change. It looks like there could be a more direct game – less stoppages, less handballs, more long kicks, and key position players could start to reclaim their importance. We have to be wary of the midfielders and half-backs who we’re used to racking up a lot of possessions as they move the ball sideways looking for ways to push forward.
“The new kick-on rules can have a big impact there – you’ll have players who can claim some real ground playing on then deliver a long kick, perhaps almost to the wing.
“The nature of the game could change considerably. I think it’s the most important set of rule changes in 25 or 30 years.
“From a punting perspective, there’s potential opportunities and threats. I think punters will need to be really dynamic and move with the change. It’s going to be very hard to rely on static models with years of data. What happens in round 1 will be really interesting. Then as we build a larger body of data, things will change quickly, as we need to be relying much more on this season than last season.”