Main content

AFLW: New out of bounds rule

The AFL today wrote to all clubs in the NAB AFLW competition to advise that the 2018 season will see the introduction of a free kick paid against a team where a kick or handball goes out of bounds, without the ball being touched by an opposition player.

The AFL Executive approved a recommendation by AFL General Manager Football Operations Steve Hocking and AFLW Head of Football Nicole Livingstone, after the AFL’s football department hosted the second annual forum for clubs in the NAB AFLW competition in Melbourne earlier this month.

Hocking and Head of Competitions & Player Movement Josh Vanderloo met with all eight current NAB AFLW coaches, club list managers and club football managers, along with representatives of the incoming Geelong Cats and North Melbourne, who will join the AFLW for the 2019 season, for a wide-ranging meeting on all aspects of the AFLW.

Mr Hocking said they had covered expansion list rules; health and safety for players; talent pathways and laws, as well as a detailed discussion on game style in the AFLW, compared to game style in the AFL.

The initial season of the AFLW competition had seen 37 per cent more stoppages and 96 per cent more secondary stoppages than in the AFL competition, while tackling rates were also much higher. As a result, clubs were asked to consider methods the game could consider to reduce congestion and increase scoring, he said.

“A number of options were debated at length by the clubs and the AFL, including anti-density rules, on how we can continue to reduce congestion and increase scoring,” Hocking said.

“There was a strong view that a number of options require more data to ensure that they would actually have the desired impact we are seeking, along with the consideration any such changes would be a significant alteration for players and coaches close to the start of the 2018 season.

“This law has been implemented in the SANFL over the last two years, with the data supporting the reduction of stoppages and an increase in scoring,” he said.

The umpiring of last disposal will be as follows, where a Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player who:

  • Kicks or Handballs the football over the Boundary Line without the football being touched by another Player;
  • Except where a Player who does not have possession stops the football being touched by an opposition player by shepherding the football across the boundary line where the football could have otherwise been touched.
  • If in doubt the Umpires are instructed to throw the ball in.

Ms Livingstone, who has now started in her role this week after her appointment in November, said the AFL had met as a group with the key off-field leaders at each club to ensure the game could build on the success of the opening year of the AFLW competition, and that matches were exciting and compelling to both watch and play at the elite level.

“The opening year of the NAB AFLW competition was a huge success, both for the standard of play that was produced by the eight teams across the league and also for the impact the competition had at a wider level on women and girls wanting to play our game,” Ms Livingstone said.

“As the clubs prepare for the second year of competition starting next February, the AFL was keen to discuss with our key club leaders and officials how the competition can continue to develop strongly, while the skills and fitness of the players further improve in the coming seasons.

“It is the AFL’s view that it is important that the attacking skills of players be able to be showcased and that we continue to identify and develop talent,” she said.

The AFLW 2018 season will also see team sizes move to 16 on the field with five on the bench (as against 16 on-field with six on the bench last year), while time-on will operate for the last two minutes of each quarter for any delays late in quarters.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs