High contact rules updated amid Jack Ginnivan controversy


After a weekend of widespread confusion around the rules, the AFL clarified its high contact expectations in a statement.

A number of pundits have implored the league to be more clear on the rules after a round that saw varying interpretations of the high contact rule across different games.

Here is how the rule will be arbitrated from round 19:

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When the tackle is reasonably applied, there is no prior opportunity and the ball carrier is responsible for high contact via a shrug, drop or arm lift – play on should be called.

When the tackle is reasonably applied, and there is a prior opportunity, and the ball carrier is responsible for high contact via a shrug, drop or arm lift – hold the ball should be called.

If a player has his head above the ball and tries to gain possession and the contact is high, a free kick for high contact will be awarded.

AFL refereeing boss Dan Richardson said the rules were set out as such so players encouraging high contact or looking for free-kicks would not be rewarded.

“First and foremost, players trying to win the ball must be protected and the duty of care rests with the tackler. However, after winning the ball, the ball carrier has a duty to ensure that they do not get in a high-level contact position,” Richardson said in a statement Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, the rules don’t reward players for putting themselves in vulnerable positions to take a free kick. That’s something we’d rather not see in our game at any level.

“We want to be clear, if the referee thinks the ball carrier is responsible for the high contact, he won’t be rewarded.

“Our referees strive to make every decision correctly, every time, but there are instances where, just like the players, decisions are made at full speed at ground level without the benefit of slow-motion replay.

“The health and safety of players is the primary concern of the AFL and the clubs, and we will continue to work with the clubs, their coaching panels, as well as the players to keep the game safe.”

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