River Murray Football League adopts rule changes for 2018 season

Positive move: River Murray Football League umpires coach Randall Cocks said changes to out of bounds rules put the league in-line with the state competition and made decision-making easier on umpires. Photo: Nick Grimm.
Positive move: River Murray Football League umpires coach Randall Cocks said changes to out of bounds rules put the league in-line with the state competition and made decision-making easier on umpires. Photo: Nick Grimm.

THE River Murray Football League (RMFL) has made rules changes ahead of the 2018 season with round one matches just a little more than two weeks away.

The RMFL’s club delegates voted in favour of the changes at a meeting on Monday, March 19.

The biggest rule change sees the introduction of the ‘last disposal out of bounds rule’, which will now see a free kick payed if the ball was kicked or handballed across the boundary line without touching another player.

The rule is already used by the South Australian National Football League (SANFL).

SANFL guidelines detail that a free kick shall be awarded against a player who:

  • Kicks or handballs the football over the boundary line without the football being touched by another player;
  • For the purposes of defining a kick, a kick shall be an intentional action, not accidental. When the ball comes off the foot or lower leg of a player without the intent of the player being to kick the ball, it will be deemed accidental contact and will not be determined as a kick by the umpire and therefore will result in a boundary throw in.  
  • Where a player who does not have possession stops the football being touched by an opposition player by ahepherding the ball across the boundary line where the ball could have otherwise been touched by the player being blocked, then the umpire will not award a free kick but will instead order a boundary throw in.

The SANFL released an educational video to interpret the out of bounds last possession rule, seen below.

RMFL umpires coach Randall Cocks said the rule change kept the league in-line with the state competition and made decision-making easier on umpires.

“It keeps us in line with how the SANFL operate, the Great Southern and Southern football leagues have also gone down this line,” he said.

“And it is easier for the umpire to understand – the umpires don’t have to be mind readers to try and work out whether the players intention was deliberate.

“(The new rule) makes it easier for all the umpires to make the same decisions; it takes away one umpire paying 15 deliberate decisions a game and other umpire zero.”

Cocks stressed a free kick would only be paid if the ball travels over the boundary line from a kick or handball without any further player interference. 

“It’s not last touch … it’s last disposal; the ball has to go out via a kick or handpass without being touched again,” he said.

Cocks said boundary umpires were “even more important” following the rule changes and the boundary officials would still throw the ball in every other instance and retain other duties including monitoring centre square infringement and collecting the ball following a goal. 

“They (boundary umpires) can also tap their hand, similar to a goal umpire does to help the central umpire make his decision on whether the ball was touched on the way out,” Cocks said.

Another rule change introduced Monday night that brings the RMFL in-line with the state competition included an option for umpires to give a 25 metre penalty for minor infringements on the field.

The option for umpires to give 50 metre penalties remains still in place.