The 2019 Australian Football League season is the 123rd season of the elite Australian rules football competition and the 30th under the name 'Australian Football League', having switched from 'Victorian Football League' after 1989. There are 18 teams competing in the league, the same as the previous seven seasons. The first game was played on Thursday, 21 March, and the season is scheduled to conclude with the 2019 AFL Grand Final on Saturday, 28 September. The reigning premiers are West Coast.
The AFL Commission approved several alterations to the rules of the game, to come into effect for the 2019 season:
- Traditional playing positions mandated at center bounces (i.e. after goals have been scored)
- Teams must have six players inside both 50m arcs, with one player inside the goal square.
- Four midfield players must start inside the center square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.
- At kick-ins, a player will no longer need to kick to himself to play on from the goal square.
- Following a behind, the man on the mark will be brought out to 10m from the top of the goal square, rather than the existing five meters, due to the play on the rule from kick-ins.
- When defenders mark or receive a free kick within nine meters of their own goal, the man on the mark will be brought in line with the top of the goal square.
- Team runners may only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts.
- Water carriers are not permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.
- Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at center bounces.
- With respect to 50-meter penalties, the player with the ball:
- Must be allowed to advance the mark by 50m without the infringing player delaying the game and;
- Will be able to play on while the 50m penalty is being measured out.
- With respect to kicks after the siren, a player in this situation:
- Will be able to kick across their body using a snap or check-side however;
- They must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.
- The 'hands in the back' rule interpretation have been repealed so a player can now:
- Place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest, provided he does not push his opponent in the back.
- A ruckman who takes direct possession of the ball from a bounce, throw-up or boundary throw-in will no longer be regarded as having had the prior opportunity.
- Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.
The Australian Football League (AFL), known as the Victorian Football League (VFL) until 1990, is the elite national competition in men's Australian rules football. The inaugural premiership was awarded to Essendon as a result of a round-robin finals system, where the club won all three of their games in the competition. This format was replaced after the first season, and a Grand Final has been held every season since 1898 to determine the premiers, with the exception of 1924 when a modified round-robin system was used. The formation of a national competition, beginning in 1987, has resulted in the League attempting to develop "an even and stable competition" through a range of equalization policies, such as a salary cap and draft (introduced in 1985 and 1986 respectively). This has had a significant impact on the spread of premierships: since 1990, thirteen clubs have won a premiership, compared with only five clubs between 1967 and 1989.
Two clubs, Essendon and Carlton, have won the most VFL/AFL premierships with sixteen each. There are only three teams currently competing in the AFL that are yet to win a premiership: Fremantle, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydneythree of the competition's four newest teams.
PARTICIPATION IN FINALS SERIES MATCHES
(a) A Player who has not played in at least one AFL or VFL Senior Grade Home and Away Match in the relevant season will be ineligible to play in the VFL Senior Grade Finals Series.
(b) A Player who has played in an AFL Home and Away Match after 1 July in the relevant season will be ineligible to play in VFL Senior Grade Finals Series Matches unless that Player has played in a combined total of at least six (6) VFL Senior Grade Home and Away Matches in the same season.
(c) Despite any other provision of this Rule 20, but subject to Rule 20(d), where a Club has both its AFL and VFL Senior Teams engaged on the same weekend, any Player may be selected to play in the VFL Senior Team so long as that player has played in at least one AFL or VFL Senior Grade Home and Away Match in that relevant season.
(d) When an AFL Club is eliminated from the AFL Final Series on the same weekend as the VFL Grand Final, the selection of players in the VFL Senior Grade team shall be unrestricted, provided the player has participated in at least one (AFL or VFL) Senior Grade match in the relevant season.
(e) Despite any other provision in Rule 20, an AFL listed player must:
(i) qualify under Regulation 20(b); and
(ii) have played no more than 12 AFL Home and Away Matches, to be eligible to play in VFL Finals Series Matches.
(f) Despite any other provision in Rule 20, in circumstances where:
(i) an AFL Club is participating in the AFL Finals Series, but is not required to play on a particular weekend (by virtue of winning its AFL Qualifying Final and earning a one-week break before its AFL Preliminary Final); and
(ii) the AFL Clubs VFL team is playing on that weekend, any AFL listed player who did not play in the AFL Qualifying Final will be eligible to play in the Clubs VFL team in the week in which the AFL Club has a one-week break.
(g) Despite any other provision in Rule 20, in circumstances where:
- An AFL Club is participating in the AFL Finals Series, but is not playing on the weekend of the AFL bye weekend after the final round of the AFL home and away season; and
- (ii) the AFL Clubs VFL team is playing on that weekend, any AFL listed player who did not play in the AFL Clubs AFL team in the final round of the AFL home and away season will be eligible to play in the Clubs VFL team in the AFL bye round after the final round of the AFL home and away season.
(h) Despite any other provision in Rule 20, the CEO of AFL Victoria (or nominee) may deem any Player eligible to play in any VFL Finals Series Match.
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