More Space for Defenders under SANFL Rule Change

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By ZAC MILBANK

SANFL players kicking the ball into play after a behind will be afforded more space under a rule change ratified by the South Australian Football Commission.

Aligning with the AFL introducing the same Laws of the Game adjustment for this season, SANFL will now instruct its players to stand at least 15m from the centre of the kick-in line or the behind post, after an out-of-bounds penalty.

Increasing the protected area from 10m to 15m is expected to continue to assist with the flow of the game whilst reducing congestion.

”We’re hopeful the increase in the protected zone to 15m will spread the field after a behind and, therefore, promote greater ball movement,” SANFL General Manager Football Matt Duldig said.

”Ideally it will also reduce the amount of short kicks into the back pocket which have become common with the protected zone being at 10m.”

The new rule change will be implemented across all State League competitions in 2021, including the Statewide Super Women’s League and U18s and 16s Torrens University Cup.

It comes ahead of the fixture releases for the SANFL Statewide Super League and Statewide Super Women’s League later this week.

SANFL’s Laws of the Game Committee noted the AFL’s rule change to penalise movement by the player on the mark but has opted not to introduce this with a view to reviewing its implementation in 2022.

'We're hopeful the increase in the protected zone to 15m will spread the field after a behind and, therefore, promote greater ball movement.''

SANFL General Manager Football Matt Duldig

Duldig said the decision not to adopt the player on the mark adjustment in 2021 was based on the timing of the decision, including a limited amount of time to educate players, coaches and umpires.

The third rule change implemented by the AFL for season 2021 was to reduce interchange rotations to 75 per match. This move aligns with the existing SANFL rotation cap.

All other Laws of the Game adopted by SANFL for season 2020 will remain in 2021.

Chaired by SA Football Commissioner Tom Zorich, the SANFL Laws of the Game Committee includes Duldig, North Adelaide chief executive Greg Edwards, Woodville-West Torrens premiership coach Jade Sheedy, Magarey Medallist Joel Cross, SANFL Football Operations Manager Sean Toohey, SANFL Umpiring Manager Shane Harris and SANFL Talent Manager Brenton Phillips.