New 2016 AFL rules explained

With the NAB Challenge only nine days away, we thought it’s time to take a look at what rules have changed for 2016.

There are two categories of new rules for 2016. Some will be trialed in the NAB Challenge only, while others will be implemented all year round.



NAB Challenge Trials


Protected zone

Last year, no one was allowed within five-metres of the person with the ball after a mark or free kick. This year the protected area is extended to 10-metres. If a player goes in that protected zone, expect a 50-metre penalty to be awarded.

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Man on the mark


The man on the mark is no longer allowed to creep around and stop someone from playing on. Instead of being able to line their backs up with the middle of the goals, they will have to line themselves up parallel with the middle of the ground.


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Home and away season

Dangerous tackles

There will be a stricter crack down on dangerous tackling techniques this year, with a sticker interpretation on free kicks for lifting, slinging, diving or rotating tackles with excessive force.


Deliberate out of bounds

Umps are going to be a bit hotter on the deliberate out of bounds, especially if a players doesn’t show enough intent to keep the ball in play.


AFL General Manager Football Operations Mark Evans said the AFL had presented to coaches, football managers and the AFLPA at its meeting in Adelaide last year around the NAB AFL Draft on the areas of dangerous tackles, the protected area around the mark, boundary line play and third-man up tactics at ball-ups and throw-ins.


Mr Evans said that in the discussions with clubs, coaches and the AFLPA (representing the players) these four areas were the focus through the year.


“The AFL has continued to seek to spread the game out, continue to enhance player safety, improve the umpiring of our game and consider the feedback of our fans that is received across our fan surveys,” Mr Evans said.


“The view of the AFL and the Commission is that a series of tighter interpretations in the areas of dangerous tackles, boundary line play and the protected area for the player with the ball will deliver an effective result for how the game is played and how it looks next season, compared to undertaking more serious changes to the game,” he said.

By Andrew Wiles

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