The speculation is over, as the AFL has officially proclaimed that it will debut the experimental rule of last disposal out of bounds when the AFLW resumes in 2018.
The league perhaps could have given the players more notice and only told the players about the change last week via the AFL Players’ Association.
According to Brett Murphy, General Manager of Player Relations, there were different views expressed by the players, but most seemed to think the idea worth a trial, at least.
“The AFL recently made us aware of its proposal to implement the rule and requested we provide feedback on behalf of our members,” Murphy told foxfooty.com.au. “The players expressed varying views, but a slight majority favoured a trial of the rule in the 2018 season. “We will monitor the impact of the rule throughout the upcoming season and plan to review it after collecting further feedback from players.”
The aim of the rule is to increase scoring. If that target were achieved, it would be logical to expect the rule to stay.
Briefly, the last disposal rule awards a free kick against a player who kicks or handball the footy out of bounds, which makes it different form the last touch rule. It will only be enforced within the 50 m arcs, so there is no cinch of a goal being an automatic outcome.
The league is going to trial the rule for 18 months. The AFL has seized the opportunity of the AFLW to tinker with rules changes. The first season of the AFLW featured 16-a-side play, but it is hard to conceive of the AFL ever going to two fewer players.
It would cut personnel costs if each of the 18 AFL clubs were able to reduce its payroll, but it would not be such a good move for the 36 players left unemployed.