In the last 24 hours, the Australian Football League’s media arm has confirmed there will be more rules changes to the women’s game at the national level.
The AFLW will have a ‘last touch out-of-bounds rule’ in 2018, although it will be for the full field and not just between the 50 metre arcs as originally reported by Fox Sports.
League headquarters has also confirmed that there will be time-on for the last two minutes of each quarter (for any delays), while the bench for each team will be reduced from six players to five.
The ‘time-on for the last two minutes’ rule was previously used in the short-lived Foxtel Cup competition.
AFLW clubs were formally notified of the rule changes yesterday (Wednesday, December 13), allowing coaches only a small one-month window to adjust their game plan training, with players due to break for Christmas at the end of the week.
Speaking to the AFL’s Nat Edwards, AFLW Head of Football Nicole Livingstone claimed the new ‘last touch’ rule had the support of players and coaches.
“With any new change there is a certain amount of nerves,” Ms Livingstone said.
“But the bottom line is, if there is any doubt in terms of whether or not it has been touched or not, the umpire will throw the ball in.”
Livingstone also confirmed the rule change was in part to make the women’s game look different, a view that hasn’t gone down well with fans or those women who played before the AFL takeover.
“I think with any kind of change there will be those traditionalists that aren’t that comfortable with it,” Livingstone said.
“There’s certainly been a lot of commentary around why don’t we play the same game as the men.
“But when you’ve got 800 men on lists around the country with AFL [clubs], we don’t want to get lost with that crowd.
“We want our women to stand out and showcase the best football that they can play and I think that’s what’s really important.”
Make of that what you will.
For the ‘last touch’ rule, a free kick will be awarded against a player who:
- Kicks or Handballs the football over the Boundary Line without the football being touched by another Player;
- Except where a Player who does not have possession stops the football being touched by an opposition player by shepherding the football across the boundary line where the football could have otherwise been touched.
If in doubt, the umpires are instructed to throw the ball in, while the umpiring department is to also confirm the signal to be given by the umpires when awarding a free kick under this new rule.
The ‘last touch’ rule has been in action in the SANFL for the last two seasons, where the league developed the following video to explain the rule: