A carnival of football will headline the return of Australia’s game this year as the 2014 NAB Challenge rolls into every state and territory with 18 games in 18 days.
The 2014 NAB Challenge kicks off tonight with Geelong hosting Collingwood at Simonds Stadium (7.10pm), the first of 18 consecutive matches to be played over the next three weeks.
The AFL’s new-look pre-season competition will see the game’s biggest names and brightest young stars compete at venues around the country while each region will have the chance to engage in a range of community and grassroots events as part of the carnival of football in each location.
Matches will be played in all nine states and territories across the 18 days of competition, with matches again being taken to non-traditional venues that don’t regularly host AFL football during the regular season – Blacktown (NSW), Joondalup (WA), North Ballarat (Vic), Richmond Oval (SA), TIO Traegar Park, Alice Springs (NT), Townsville (Qld), Wagga Wagga (NSW) and Wangaratta (Vic).
The NAB Challenge will also see the implementation of rule variations including six interchange players and two substitute players; substitute players can be reset after half time.
This year’s NAB Challenge will again see nine points awarded for a NAB Supergoal kicked from outside the 50m arc. For every NAB Supergoal kicked, NAB will donate $500 worth of Sherrin footballs to the goal kicker’s junior football club.
All approved Laws changes for the 2014 Premiership Season will be implemented in the NAB Challenge, including:
o Rough Conduct – Head clashes when a player elects to bump. A player may be cited for Rough Conduct for bumping if he causes forceful contact to be made to his opponents head or neck – even if that contact is caused by a clash of heads.
o High contact – Players leading with the head and ducking into high contact. A player who drives his head into a stationary or near stationary player shall be regarded as having had prior opportunity. The onus of responsibility still lies with the tackler to avoid contact above an opponent’s shoulders. A free kick will be paid against the tackler whenever he makes high contact – unless the player in possession is the sole contributor to that contact occurring by driving his head into a stationary or near stationary player
o Forceful contact below the knees – a free kick will be paid for:
• Forceful contact below the knees, or
• Conduct in a manner likely to cause injury – even if there is no contact or the contact is not forceful
o Marking – There will still be expectation that players demonstrate they are legitimately attempting to mark the ball, but players can use their body to protect space so long as those actions are incidental to the marking contest.
o Protected Area – Hands in the air. Umpire will use discretion as to whether the player within the protected area has attempted to delay or impact the player in possession of the ball. Players must remain passive if caught within the protected area and exit the area immediately.
o Interchange – A cap of 130 rotations per match is in place for the NAB Challenge, 120 rotations for the Premiership Season. Clubs will be allowed to immediately rectify minor interchange infringements without penalty, by making a player return to the interchange box where he interchanges early or from slightly outside of the interchange box.
o On-field officials
Teams will be permitted only one (1) runner, who may deliver coaching messages and then immediately leave the playing arena;
Increased sanctions will be applied for runners who remain on the arena for lengthy periods of time or who act as an “on field coach”.
o Medical Staff and Trainers
Medical staff and trainers will wear a pink coloured vest to distinguish their uniforms from players;
Teams will be permitted four trainers who may access the playing field at appropriate breaks in play. A 5th trainer will be permitted to attend to hydration and other activities such as massage, but will only be permitted on the arena to assist with stretcher cases;
Increased sanctions will be applied for medical staff or trainers who deliver coaching messages;
No trainers are permitted to enter the playing surface from the bench during play
FOXTEL and FOX SPORTS will broadcast every match of the 2014 NAB Challenge live, in High Definition and uninterrupted siren to siren. For the latest broadcast information please visit http://www.afl.com.au/tv-radio/nab-challenge-broadcast-guide
Tickets to all NAB Challenge matches are now on-sale through Ticketek (Star Track Oval), Ticket Shop (Townsville), TicketDirect (Alice Springs) and Ticketmaster for all other venues. For more details visit www.afl.com.au
The 2014 NAB Challenge can be found at http://www.afl.com.au/fixture/nab-challenge