Sporting HQ


Will the new AFL rules really make a difference?

With season 2019 commencing in just a few hours, SportingHQ have decided to do a final run over what we can expect through the major rule changes coming into effect this season.

We’ve identified the three biggest rule changes we think will have the largest effect on the game, and whether it will be for better, or for worse.

The ‘six-six-six’ rule:

The eighteen players on the ground at any given time for each team will now be split into zones whenever there is a ball up in the centre of the ground, with six players starting in the defensive fifty, six players in the middle of the ground between the two arcs (four in the centre square and two on the wings), and six in the forward fifty.

What does it mean for the game?

In theory, it should maximize the space after a centre bounce, both in the centre and in the forward lines. Since players cannot start behind the ball, Coaches are less likely to have players running off the back of the square towards their own goal in an effort to stop quick breaks out of the centre by the opposition, as that will leave them outnumbered in their forward fifty. This should see midfielders have an extra second or two to dispose of the ball into their forward fifty, hopefully bringing about higher quality footy.

Strong key forwards will also heavily benefit from this rule, as it should make it harder for defending players to zone off their own player in an effort to assist and create a 2 on 1 scenario, outnumbering the forward. More one on one contests will likely be seen in a true old fashioned battle of Key Forward vs Key Defender, what people want to see.

Jack Riewoldt should have lots of opportunities to win 1v1 contests on Thursday night.

Who’s counting their lucky stars?

Since Richmond and Carlton will kick off the season tonight, it’s a good idea to note the effect this will hopefully have on strong midfielders in Dustin Martin and Patrick Cripps. If these two can break tackles out of the centre like we know they can and burst out of packs, expect Dusty and Crippa to have an extra few seconds to swiftly hit up a target, or even go all the way themselves. Expect a huge game from these two, as well as the key forwards at either end. With each team playing three big forwards, there should also be a plethora of big grabs that will get the 80,000 plus crowd at the MCG on its feet.

The Kick in rule:

When taking the ball after a behind, a player will no longer have to kick the ball to himself and can instead just play on. The man on the mark will also be brought back 10 meters from the end of the Goal square, instead of the previous five.

What does it mean for the game?

This rule is sure to bring about players being more likely to decide to play on after a behind, as well as giving them more space to play on into, creating faster and more attacking footy. If a player plays on now after a behind, they can clear the ball to 70-80 metres from each time, which will help worse off teams in getting the ball out of the defensive fifty and prevent the footy being locked in and around the forward fifty for a sustained period of time.

Who’s counting their lucky stars?

Sticking with the Richmond and Carlton theme, we know that the Tigers are excellent at locking the ball into their forward fifty, so the extra 20 metres gained on a kick out from Carlton now could prove invaluable to the Blues. Look for players like Kade Simpson to take full effect of this rule and pin point a pass well outside their defensive fifty to escape the Richmond press. Jayden Short could also play a big role with his speed and booming right foot looking like a real asset to Richmond this year from kick outs.


Is this the year Jayden Short announces his status as elite defender?

No more Prior opportunity for Ruckman:

From this season forward, ruckman will now be able to grab the ball out of the ruck with no fear of being called holding the ball. If they choose to take possession out of the ruck, then that will no longer be recognized as prior opportunity, and what would have been a free kick against in years gone by will now only warrant a ball up.

What does it mean for the game?

Ruckman now have the option to be more aggressive in taking the ball out of the ruck with no fear of any detrimental effects. They will now get more clearances themselves, and opposing ruckman have to be more accountable for each other, as it will be all too easy for their opponent to get a clearance if they are not. However, the AFL may well have to modify this rule at the end of the season, with the strong possibility of ruckman consistently grabbing the ball out of a ruck contest, knowing full well they will not be penalised for it, in a time-wasting effort.

Who’s counting their lucky stars?

The taller and more agile a ruck is, the more they will benefit from this rule. While teams were generally unlikely to play two rucks in the same side last year, this new rule should ease that concern, allowing second rucks to probably play more games this season. Therefore, Melbourne fans cast rest easy that the Brayden Preuss trade was not a bad one, and will likely turn out to be worthwhile. In tonight’s match, expect Toby ‘The Tank’ Nankervis, while opposed to the relatively inexperienced Andrew Phillips of Carlton to consistently take the ball out of the air and hack it forward in gaining metres for his Tigers.

The new Ruck rule makes it only more likely that Gawn and Preuss will play in the same team.

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