AFL: Players who duck into tackles or drop their knees will no longer automatically be awarded free kicks under one of three rule and interpretation changes that AFL umpires have been instructed to strictly enforce.
New umpires boss Peter Schwab moved to clarify the changes, which were approved by the AFL Commission and announced late last month.
The interpretation of when a player draws high contact from a tackle has been simplified while there will be a "lot stricter" interpretation of the deliberate rushed behinds rule.
The third man up in ruck contests has also been outlawed, as has been widely publicised, and two ruckman will need to nominate with a show of hands before every ball up and boundary throw in around the ground.
Players receiving free kicks when initiating high contact in a tackle caused the most controversy last season but Schwab said there would be significant change on that front.
"What we're trying to do there is if the players' legitimate attempt to tackle appears to be correct and that the high contact is caused by the player ducking into the tackle, dropping his knees or trying to shrug it off, then it will be a play-on call," he said.
"Again it's asking for the umpire to make that decision so we'll just see how we go on that."
A distance factor has been added to the deliberate rushed behind rule, with any player rushing a behind from more than 9m out automatically penalised.
Only five deliberate rushed behinds were penalised with free kicks to the opposition side last year.
"The deliberate rushed behind has a lot of criteria for the umpires," Schwab said.
"It sounds simple in principle but when you go through it there's a lot of examples about how the ball's taken over the scoring line. So we've had to work out some criteria to help us.
"We know there is perceived pressure with players but the umpire will look at it and say, 'Well, I think the player had a lot of time to do something and elected to take it over'."
In other umpiring news, former Richmond, Port Adelaide and Melbourne midfielder David Rodan will officiate as a goal umpire at AFL level for the first time during the JLT Community Series after impressing in the VFL last year.
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