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AFL Rules


The AFL has put together a 23-minute video to illustrate the application of the 2014 Laws of Australian Rules Football. This is required viewing for all USAFL Board Members, Representative team personnel and players, club presidents, and should be encouraged viewing for all USAFL registered players. Below are some comments to the video that relate specifically to assist with USAFL umpires and with USAFL interpretations.




Video Rule Notes
1 Forceful Contact Below the Knees ·        Players must use a “duty of care”

·        Sliding into a contest making forceful contact below the knees, as well as any reckless conduct (in which contact was likely to cause injury had contact occurred) is to be penalized

·        Exceptions: attempt to smother; attempting to mark; pushed, bumped, or tackled to the ground; already on the ground and reaching out for the ball

2 Drawing Head Contact ·        A player is in possession and drives his head into an opponent shall be deemed to have had prior opportunity and will be required to dispose of the ball if legally tackled

·        Ducking: when a player ducks into the tackle, causing contact, the umpire will call play on

·        The tackling player still has a duty to try to avoid high contact

3 Protected Area ·        The strict interpretation of “hands in the air” is removed

·        A player not in the marking contest must be penalized if delaying the player who marked the ball. This is umpire discretion

·        Note: A player leaving the protected area is not to be penalized, unless interfering with the play.

4 Marking Contest Free Kicks ·        The word “unduly” has been included to rule 15.4.5(d) and applies to an action or actions that are deemed unreasonable and excessive in a marking contest that prevents a player from contesting the ball

·        Examples are a illegal push, bump, block, or hold of an opponent

·        Players are allowed to maintain their ground legally (i.e. no hands in the back)

5 Other Free Kicks ·        No Changes in the following interpretations:

·        50M penalties

·        Holding The Ball

·        Ruck Contests

·        Advantage

·        Deliberate Rushed Behinds

·        Protection of the Ball Player

·        Holding at Stoppages

·        Deliberate Out of Bounds

·        Zero Tolerance to Abuse

·        Marking Contests (other free kicks)

6 50m Penalties ·        50M penalties will be paid for:

·        Cribbing the mark (interfering)

·        Delay the play

·        Uses abusive language or behavior towards an umpire

·        Other conduct for which a free kick would be awarded

7 Holding The Ball ·        Prior Opportunity

·        Player in possession of the ball has had prior opportunity to dispose legally

·        Is tackled legally

·        Must immediately handball or kick the ball (legally)

·        Diving on the Ball

·        When a player drags the ball to or under his body

·        Is legally tackled

·        Must successfully knock the ball clear

·        No Prior Opportunity – Genuine Attempt

·        A player gains possession of the ball, but has had no prior opportunity to dispose

·        Shall be given reasonable opportunity to attempt a correct disposal of the football

·        The attempt does not have to be successful, but must be a genuine attempt in the discretion of the umpire

·        Illegal Disposal

·        A player who has possession and drops, places, or throws the ball to the ground without making a genuine attempt to handball or kick, will be penalized

8 Rucks ·        The ruckmen will be separated by 1 meter prior to the ball leaving the umpires hands

·        The umpire will instruct the ruckmen to separate by 1 meter if this is not the case. Failure to follow umpire instruction may result in a 50m penalty

·        Third man in is allowed, other than center bounce, as long as no other rules are broken (no push, bump, block or hold is allowed)

9 Advantage ·        The advantage play in the USAFL will be the sole discretion of the field umpire.

·        Umpire may reverse advantage when it is obvious that player does not know rule or does not take advantage.

·        In international games, it is assumed the home team rules will be applied. Visiting team should inquire/be informed of any such variations to the rules prior to the start of the match

10 Deliberate Rushed Behinds ·        The USAFL has not adopted this rule; a behind is awarded even when it might be considered intentional under AFL rules.

·        In international games, it is assumed the home team rules will be applied. Visiting team should inquire/be informed of any such variations to the rules prior to the start of the match

11 Protection of the Ball Player ·        Free kicks will be awarded against any player who lies on an opponent’s back, sits on his head or shoulders, or makes high contact in any form
12 Holding at Stoppages ·        Holding an opponent during a stoppage will be penalized


13 Deliberate Out of Bounds ·        Players will be penalized for intentionally: knock the ball out of bounds, kick or handball the ball out of bounds, or force the ball out of play (including walking over the boundary line)

·        Ruck contest – the ruckman will be penalized for intentionally knocking the ball out of bounds, even when the ball does not go out on the full.

14 Zero Tolerance ·        No tolerance for players who verbally or demonstratively abuse umpires. Note: the intention of the player is the key – making personal the objection to the call (as opposed to simply getting on with the game)
15 Marking Contests ·        Player must make the ball their sole objective:

·        Front on push, no attempt to mark the ball

·        Bump/Tunnel/Shunt – never allowed

·        Blocking – the player makes no realistic attempt on the ball

·        Chopping the arm/s – never allowed

·        Hold – never allowed

·        Hands in the Back – USAFL umpires should look for two distinct movements (arm extension to push an opponent and marking the ball for example, would be two movements). This is a slightly less strict interpretation as opposed to the AFL interpretation

·        (for clarity as this is slightly different from hands in the back) Unrealistic attempt – player must make contact with the ball for the attempt to be considered realistic. This especially applies to ‘in the back’ and ‘high contact’