Rule Changes in VAFA for 2013

New Laws 2013 

There are 3 new law changes and a number of modifications to interpretations.

The three approved law changes are:  

  1. 1.      Forceful contact below the knees
  2. 2.      Separation of Ruckmen at stoppages.
  3. 3.      Umpires to ‘Throw the ball up’ around the ground – Already in the VAFA.


Forceful contact below the knees:  

Makes contact with any part of their body with an opposition player below the knees. (This does not apply to smothers with the hands or arms).


These free kicks are an extension of the sliding knees and feet first free kicks, which were introduced during season 2012.


Players are encouraged to remain on their feet when attempting to take possession of the ball. If players do elect to slide or dive for the ball, they cannot make any contact to their opponent below the knees, otherwise a free kick will be paid.



Separation of Ruckmen at stoppages  


The Law now requires the ruckmen to be separated by at least 1 metre prior to the ball leaving the umpires hand.  This is to ensure that the ruckmen’s objective is to play the ball and not the man.


Umpires will call for ruck nomination if there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman at the stoppage for each team. If a team fails to nominate a ruckman in this situation the umpire may award a free kick for failing to follow an umpires instruction.

Third man up is still allowable under this interpretation.


Throwing the Ball Up around the Ground


The umpire will continue to bounce the ball at the start of each quarter and after goals have been scored, however in season 2013 when a field umpire calls for a ball up around the ground, the ball will be thrown up on all occasions.


Once the Field umpire’s has the ball in his hands, they have been instructed to throw the ball up as soon as practical.

Interpretation changes 2013.


Interpretation changes have also been made for season 2013.

-          Stronger protection of the ball player at ground level.

-          Stricter enforcement of protected area.

-          Paying free kicks for blocking infringements and interfering in marking contests.

-          Stricter interpretation of holding the ball.

-          Free kick against a player for dragging or pushing the ball back under their opponent - as per previous NAB cup trials.

-          Kicking in from full back - Reduce time allowed for kick ins to 5 – 6 seconds - from when flags have been waved.


Protection of the ball player Where a player has won the ball at ground level, the opposition player tackling or contesting the ball must do so in a legal manner. Umpires will be instructed to be diligent and award free kicks against any player who lies on an opponent’s back, who sits on his head or shoulders or makes high contact in any other form.


25 m penalties: Stricter enforcement of protected area In 2013, there will be a stricter enforcement of the protected area around the player with the ball. The Protected Area is a corridor which extends from 5 metres either side of the mark to 5 metres either side of, and a 5 metre radius behind, the Player with the football.

There have been 2 modifications made but only (a) effects the VAFA to the protected area for this season:

a)    If caught in or leaving the protected area, a player is not permitted to raise his arms, as this will be interpreted as taking up space and creating interference.


b)    A player can only enter the protected area when following an opponent and must be within 2 metres of that opponent - amended from 5metres. This player is not permitted to make any contact to the player with ball until the umpire calls play on. – Not Applicable to the VAFA

Marking contests  

Players who make the ball their sole objective in a marking contest will be protected.  Players are permitted to use their bodies in a marking contest, however they cannot push, bump, block, hold or interfere with the arms of an opponent who is contesting the ball in a marking situation.

Please Note; We do not have the Hands in the Back interpretation in a Marking Contest in the VAFA.


In season 2013 there will be a stricter enforcement of penalizing players who block their opponents in marking contests. This is to allow all players to be able to contest the ball on their merits.


Holding the Ball  

No prior opportunity - Must make a genuine attempt

A player, who takes possession of the ball but has had no prior opportunity to dispose of it, will be given a “reasonable opportunity” to make a “genuine attempt” to dispose of the ball when tackled legally.

Players will continue to be penalized if their arm or arms are free and make no genuine attempt to dispose of the ball.

The player who “drops” “throws” or “places” the ball on the ground without making a genuine attempt to handball or kick will be penalized.

In each of the following examples, the player who takes possession of the ball fails to make a “genuine attempt” to kick or handball when tackled legally.


Prior Opportunity

When a player who is in possession of the ball has had a “prior opportunity” to dispose of the ball and is then tackled legally, he then must immediately and correctly   he must kick or handball the ball.

 For clarification, if the ball hits the ground before contact is made with the boot, when attempting to kick the ball, this will be interpreted as an illegal disposal.


Dragging or pushing the ball back under an opponent.

From season 2013 any player who drags or pushes the ball back under their opponent will be penalized.


Deliberate out of Bounds:

Umpires will continue to be instructed to penalize players who intentionally handball, kick, carry or force the ball out of play. This includes walking the ball over the boundary line. Ruckmen will continue to be penalised for intentionally knocking the ball out of bounds from a ruck contest, regardless of whether the ball crosses the line on the full or bounces prior to crossing the boundary line.


Blocking off the ball in general play:


In season 2013 illegal blocking off the ball in general play will continue to be a focus of the umpires.

All Players are reminded that they cannot block or interfere with their opponent when they are further than 5 metres from the ball.


When a player has been awarded a free kick and a teammate elects to take advantage, the play will be allowed to continue and will not be recalled by the umpire.

Umpires will continue to allow a player slightly more time to assess their options before deciding whether to call advantage or not.

Timing – Set Play Situation. 

Kicking the ball back into play after a behind 

In 2013, player will have a reduced time to bring the ball back into play. This is to be consistent with set play situations around the ground.

In both situations the umpire will whistle at 5-6 secs then say “move it on” and then call “play on”.

When kicking the ball back into play a team may change a player who is to kick the ball in however the 5-6 secs time limit will still apply. – Not Applicable to the VAFA

If no player from the defending team has possession of the ball or shows no urgency to bring the ball back into play as required, the umpire will call for a throw up at the top of the goal square.


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