AFL announce rule changes
Interchange rotations will be slashed from 90 to 75 per match for the 2021 AFL season, as part of a raft of sweeping changes to the game for the 2021 season announced on Wednesday.
The interchange cap will be reduced by 15 per match in an effort to reduce congestion, while players who move outside one metre 'level of tolerance' laterally off the mark before play on is called will give away a 50 metre penalty.
Players returning the ball to play after an opposition behind will be given a 15-metre space, an increase of five metres, between them and the opponent standing the mark.
AFL Football Operations Manager Stephen Hocking said the rule changes were designed around higher scoring and less congestion.
"The main reason (for the 75 interchange cap) is to try and open up congestion around the ground. There are a lot of high pressure game styles which have kicked in, the pressure factors have increased, and have been on the increase for five years now, so our belief is we need to put a little bit of fatigue back into the system, and to recalibrate that part of the game and hopefully have the result of opening up the game," Hocking said.
The AFL have ignored the chance to implement zones in the game, but will trial rules in the new VFL and east coast tier competition in 2021, with a minimum of players from each team to be positioned inside each 50m arc - including one per team in each goalsquare – at all kick-ins and boundary throw-ins.
Breaches of this rule will result in 50m penalties. The AFL will monitor the workings of this rule and will be prepared to introduce it to the 2022 AFL season.
Quarters are set to be returned to 20 minutes in length (plus time on) for next season, while the AFL is set to confirm a 22 game season in the coming days.