AFL fans react to new rule changes for 2021 season

The AFL have revealed three new rules for the 2021 season, as well as a rule that will be tested in the VFL and East Coast Competition, but some fans have already hit back at the changes.

The new rules are that there will be a max interchange cap of 75 players, down from 90 per match, players returning the ball from a behind will be given 15m instead of 10 and defensive players will be penalised for moving laterally on the mark, outside a 1m “level of tolerance”. This means that the defending player will only get minimal lateral movement on the mark and if the defender moves off the mark in any direction before “play on” is called, they will give away a 50m penalty.

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Another rule will be introduced to the VFL and East Coast competition will see three players from each team stationed inside 50, including a pair in the goalsquare, at all kick-ins, boundary throw-ins and ball-ups. The umpire will need to wait until all players are in position. The penalty for not complying is a 50m penalty. reported that this rule would be monitored with an aim to introduce it to for the 2022 AFL season.

The AFL has yet to reveal the length of next season as well as the quarter lengths, which is expected to revert back to 20 minute quarters plus time on.

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking with AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.Source:AAP

AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking revealed the changes with the aim of introducing more fatigue and move openness in the game after defence continued to dominate.

“The main reason (for the 75 interchange cap) is to try and open up congestion around the ground,” Hocking said. “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.”

On the ban on lateral movement by defensive players on the mark, Hocking added: “We think that will open up the game, it will open up the 45 (degree angle) pass option, which is the best real estate.

“We just want more time and space back in the game, the fans are looking for a better balance between defence and attack, and the game has definitely swayed towards defence.

“My role in that as custodian of it is to make sure the right things are introduced to open the game back up, and to have more Dustin Martin moments that he did in the Grand Final, where he was able to find space, and we would like to create more of those – that‘s my role and I’m committed to finding that space.”

But social media was quick to react with Collingwood forward Mason Cox leading the charge.

“Any chance we could keep the rules the same for once? It’s been hard enough learning it from scratch much less it changing every year. Being an umpire would be a nightmare. Every year there are more changes to AFL than any other sport in the world I feel like,” he tweeted.

Will this just confuse the umpires even more?Source:Getty Images

It easy to understand the frustration with plenty of talk about the mid-year moves that saw the holding the ball interpretation become one of the hot button issues of the season.

ABC radio host Andrew Hogan tweeted: “This is seriously the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Dustin Martin has ‘Dustin Martin moments’ because he is (and get ready cos this is wild) literally Dustin Martin…”

Former Hawks and Lions player Jordan Lisle also took aim while frustrated by all four of the new rules that are coming in.

It is absolute insanity. A complete myth perpetuated by those who have lost touch with the game.

Im gonna reply again but I just can’t believe how you can get it staggeringly wrong all the time. May as well bring back the sub rule.

Scoring has reduced as the amount of interchanges the AFL allowed has reduced … so reduce interchange more then? 🤔

Interchange rotations cut from 90 to 75 for the 2021 @AFL season.
League should have just bitten the bullet and sliced it to 40.
That would make a real difference. #AFL

Let's hope that trial rule in the VFL never makes it to the AFL. It's not under 9's.

I like the man on the mark rule. It should speed things up and stop creeping.
The kick in rule is meh.
The decrease in rotations can get in the bin.
And the VFL rule change is a farce.
What are everyone’s thoughts? #AFL

Oh great, the @afl wants even more 50m penalties for crap player on the mark decisions. no doubt looking to artificially increase the scoring… #afl

The year is 2032 and the AFL has introduced its latest changes to speed up the game

I understand the AFL’s logic of trying to tinker with the rules to create more “Dustin Martin moments.”

But it also needs to be considered there’s only one player in that type of conversation – and that’s Dustin Martin.

So I’m not sure that’s really a good example to use.

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