AFL rule changes 2019 | Possible impact on SuperCoach scoring

It is day two of SuperCoach HQ’s 40 in 40 and today we are taking a look at rule changes for the upcoming season and how they may impact scoring.

Towards the end of last season, the AFL Commission announced that there would be nine rule changes for the 2019 AFL season, but if these rule changes affect general play will they also have an impact on SuperCoach scoring?

Let’s take a look.

Rule change #1: Traditional playing positions at centre bounces

  • Clubs must have six players inside both 50m arcs, with one player inside the goal square.
  • Four midfield players must start inside the centre square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.

Verdict: In theory the idea of starting positions might provide for cleaner midfield contests and better chances for forwards (and I suppose defenders) to mark the ball from a quick kick inside fifty.

However, the questions remains as to whether teams will simply have their players lined up on the paint of fifty and just charge from their positions to either create congestion in the midfield or defence as soon as the ball is bounced.  I can’t see coaches changing their stripes so starting positions won’t have a great impact I wouldn’t have thought.

Rule change #2: Kick-ins

  • 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 goalsquare, rather than the existing five metres.

Verdict: This is a big game changer for defenders. Being able to play on freely without having to kick the ball to oneself, plus the advantage of an extra five metres before the man-on-the-mark comes into play should mean that the ball can be bought deeper into the field of play. Teams employing forward presses in previous seasons will have a harder time doing so. Expect big changes regarding how teams set up after a behind has been scored this season.

In SuperCoach terms, players who are capable of running a significant distance with the ball, or who have significant speed advantages and have the confidence that they can beat their man, now have less risk to contend with and far greater rewards.

Less pressure on the kicker should result in better kicks out of defence and the greater spread of players should result in less pressure once the ball comes into play. Teams that like to possess the ball may find themselves not liking this rule as much as those that play on at all costs.

Rule change #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.

Verdict: Another rule change that provides defenders more time and space when taking kicks that are deep on the last line of defence. The expectation is that by giving defenders more space they should be encouraged not to have to make a short kick from one pocket to another as well as avoid coming through the wrong side of the goal posts when marking on the goal line (which of course scores a point for the other team). Less pressure means more space for precision kicks out of defence.

Rule change #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.
  • Water carriers are not permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.

Verdict: Very little SuperCoach value in this one other than it cleans up congestion on the field. One of the most liked rule changes for the upcoming season.

Rule change #5: Umpire contact

  • Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at centre bounces.

Verdict: A key rule change that has been overlooked somewhat. In the past players who struggled to cope with a tag would often use the umpire as a tool at centre bounces in an attempt to separate themselves from their opponent. Specifically, one player would go one side of the umpire forcing his opponent no choice but to go the other side, creating separation.

What this rule change means is that players who struggle with a tag will no longer be able to use the umpire in this way, as one side of the contest will be free from players. This obviously advantages taggers but also could prove useful for quality tap ruckmen as there will always be one angle that players cannot approach from creating space for the ruckman to try and use to advantage his midfielders

Rule change #6: 50m penalties

  • The player with the ball:
    • Must be allowed to advance the mark by 50m without the infringing player delaying the game.
    • Will be able to play on while the 50m penalty is being measured out.

Verdict: This rule change only provides slight value from a SuperCoach point of view. The good news is that 50 metre penalties will now be much more fluid as play is not required to be stopped as the umpires set up a new mark.

The player who has received the fifty will have the chance to play on before the mark is set, so beware giving one away to players with significant foot speed as they may just exploit a scoring opportunity. The chance to use this rule will be rare but could be extremely punishing.

Rule change #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.

Verdict: A tough rule change to gauge from a SuperCoach standpoint. Could have very little impact but depending upon how tightly it will be policed by the umpire even the smallest deviation from what is an imaginary line will see kick not count. Will the rule affect the ‘Buddy arc’? Unlikely. Little to no value for SuperCoach players in my opinion.

Rule change #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.

Verdict: Another significant rule change is this one as it is going to allow stronger players the ability to use their hands to hold their ground and protect their position when they find themselves behind an opposition player. Strong forwards that embrace body contact will benefit as will strong marking midfielders who float forward. Stay at home forwards and players that are ahead of the ball and their opponent will be advantaged as will teams whose defenders do not press too high up the ground.

However, beware teams who do employ a pressing style of defence as well as teams with undersized defenders who cannot engage in a battle of strength. Due to the rule change players who are great intercept markers will have an even greater role to pay in 2019.

Rule change #9: Ruck contests: prior opportunity

  • 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.

Verdict: The last of the rule changes for 2019 is another that could give ruckmen more ability to control the state and the speed of the game. If a team has a dominant ruckman who always is getting their hands on the ball first, teams will be able to kill time at the end of a quarter or a game far easier. Teams that only play one ruckman could suffer significantly if they are only relying on a part-time/secondary ruckman, especially in the event that of a mid-game injury.


There are a number of rule changes for season 2019 which in essence could have an impact on individual player scoring as well as team structures. At this stage it may be too early to tell how severe these impacts will be but it is better to understand the rule changes now than in Round 1! Watch to see how teams employ these new rules in the JLT series and as always keep your eyes on SuperCoach HQ as our #40in40 continues in the lead up to lockout.

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