The AFL has made a number of rule changes ahead of the 2014 season.
The AFL will limit the number of trainers allowed on the ground from four to six, although earlier plans to restrict their time on the ground to following a goal, was scrapped.
AFL Players’ Association General Manager – Player Relations Ian Prendergast says this was a major topic of contention with the players but they are satisfied this will not impact their health and safety.
“The players were strongly opposed to the AFL’s earlier proposal to prohibit trainers from entering the field until after a goal has been scored,” he said.
“The players were concerned that such a change could have an adverse effect on their health and safety, by limiting their opportunity to receive water during games. The Players’ Association was pleased that the AFL listened to the players’ concerns, and decided not to proceed with the proposal.
“The AFL’s research suggests that the new rule change will have negligible impact on players’ intake of fluids during a match, and on this basis we are satisfied that the rule change won’t have any impact on player health and safety. Any rule change which could adversely affect player health and safety would be strictly non-negotiable for the Players’ Association.
“The AFL has assured us that it will monitor the rule change throughout the year and will be flexible in certain conditions, for instance on hot or humid days.”
Under further rule changes players will receive greater protection from head-high contact.
Players will be penalised for leading with their head in order to draw high contact from an opponent and players who elect to bump an opponent assume full liability should any high contact result.
The ‘sliding rule’, introduced for the 2013 will be broadened to include actions likely to cause forceful contact below the knees of an opponent, whether it results or not.
The hands in the back rule, the interchange procedure and the protected zone around the mark will be relaxed, with punishment for players who place their hands in the air while cruising through the protected space left to the umpires discretion.