The AFL New Zealand Premiership will introduce a new rule for the 2019 season.
A free kick will be paid against the last player who touches the ball before it goes out of bounds in the AFL New Zealand Premiership competition from next year.
A free kick will be paid against a team where a kick or handball goes out of bounds without being touched by an opposition player. However, no free kick will be awarded if the opposition player shepherds the ball across the boundary line where the football could have otherwise been touched.
The rule has been brought in to increase scoring and help reduce congestion to create a more free-flowing game. If there is any doubt in terms of whether or not it has been touched or not, the umpire will provide a ball up five metres in from the boundary.
The last-touch rule has been trialled by the AFL in pre-season competitions in the past, while the SANFL introduced the rule in 2016.As a result, scoring in the SANFL has increased, while the number of stoppages and throw ins have been reduced.
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;
- Except where a player who does not have possession stops the football being touched by an opposition player by shepherding the football across the boundary line where the football could have otherwise been touched.
- If in doubt the umpires are instructed to carry out a ball up five metres in from the boundary.