The AFL’s competition committee has released their incoming rule changes for the 2022 season.
With more concussion research coming to light, the AFL will modify guidelines around head-high bumps and all head-high contact to crackdown on players who are late to a contest, regardless of their intent to contest the ball.
General manager of football Brad Scott said there would likely be interpretation changes for umpires and match review personnel, particularly when related to head-high contact between players.
“Our intention was to show that what was acceptable eight-plus years ago is not acceptable in 2022 and beyond,” he said.
“It’s fair to say there was unanimous agreement from the committee that attitudes, particularly as it results to concussive-type head trauma, have changed.
“The clear message we’re giving to clubs and players is that if you contest the ball and you’re late and you hit the opposition player in the head with a bump, you’re going to be in trouble.”
The changes to interpretation extend on the ‘contesting the ball’ exemption penned ahead of the 2021 season.
Following the new understanding, players will be penalised for all instances of late high contact, regardless of whether they were contesting the ball.
“In most instances there is a player who is late in that contest, and if you’re late and hit a player in the head you’re going to be in trouble,” Scott added.
Once the AFL meets with Adelaide, they will recess their discussions of interpretation changes with clubs to early next year.
Umpires will also clamp down on players engaging in time-wasting tactics, with a focus on players who don’t have the ball impeding or blocking the opposition from picking it up.
Scott highlighted the importance of clearly communicating any changes made to fans to enhance their viewing experience.
“A lot of the frustrations I think watching footy comes when fans are confused as to what the rules are. We’ve got a job there to make them clear,” he said.
Scott also confirmed the contentious rule forcing the man on the mark to stand still would remain for 2022. The AFL would like another year to consolidate the effectiveness of the rule to assess whether it should become “a permanent fixture going forward”.
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