While the concept of an extended goal square has been scrapped, the AFL will go ahead with starting positions for centre bounces, among a number of changes.
Players will now have more room to move at kick-ins, and can play on without kicking the ball to themselves.
1. 6-6-6 starting positions at centre bounces.
This change had been one of the most discussed throughout the season. Now it’s official.
Clubs must have six players inside both 50-metre arcs, including one player inside the goal square.
Four midfield players (including the ruckman) must start inside the centre square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.
At kick-ins, a player will no longer need to kick to himself to play on from the goal square.
Following a behind, the man on the mark will be brought out to 10m from the top of the goal square, rather than the existing five metres.
3. Marks and free kicks in defence
When defenders mark or receive a free kick within nine metres of their own goal, the man on the mark will be brought in line with the top of the goal square.
4. Runners and water carriers
Team runners may only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts, while water carriers are not permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.
5. Umpire contact
Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at centre bounces.
6. 50-metre penalties
The player with the ball:
Must be allowed to advance the mark by 50 metres without the infringing player delaying the game and will be able to play on while the 50-metre penalty is being measured out.
7. Kicking for goal after the siren
A player who has been awarded a mark or free kick once play has ended:
Will now be able to kick across their body using a snap or check-side kick
But must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.
8. Marking contests
The ‘hands in the back’ rule interpretation has been repealed so a player can now:
Place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest, provided he does not push his opponent in the back.
9. Prior opportunity at ruck contests
A ruckman who takes direct possession of the ball from a bounce, throw-up or boundary throw-in will no longer be regarded as having had prior opportunity.
Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.