During 2018, Touch Football Australia (TFA) undertook a review of the 7th Edition Playing Rules. This process engaged a number of stakeholders including current administrators, coaches, referees, referee coaches and players, who provided advice and expertise in the development of the next edition of our playing rules.
The outcome is a proposed version of the 8th Edition TFA Playing Rules that reflects today’s trends of the game.
View the Proposed 8th Edition Rules.
Most changes simply align the rule book to what is being interpreted at all levels of our game, where other changes may have a more noticeable impact on the way the game is played. For this reason, TFA has determined that the proposed rules will be tested at the 2019 National Touch League (NTL), along with other events should it be deemed appropriate to do so, before the 8th Edition is ratified and released to the community for its use.
It is proposed that the 8th Edition will be in use in competitions across the country from 1 July 2019. Below are the major features of the 8th Edition TFA Playing Rules:
• The terminology used throughout the rules has realigned our sport to its roots and the terminology used throughout most of our community. ‘Touchdowns’ are now ‘tries’, the ‘score zone’ is now the ‘in-goal area’, the ‘score line’ is the ‘tryline’ and ‘a period of time’ is ‘the sin-bin’.
• Defenders will be required to retire a set distance of 7 metres from the ruck as opposed to the current ‘not less than 5 metres’ rule. This will improve consistency in its application and is more in line with what is currently being applied across our sport.
• The change to the 7 metres will see the introduction of a 7-metre zone rather than the current 5 metre zone at either end of the field. Players will be required to move forward once a defender enters that zone as is the current rule but will be required to now do so at a ‘reasonable pace’. What is deemed ‘reasonable pace’ will be well-defined throughout all education to aid consistent application.
• The defender will be required to retire to an onside position without interfering or impeding the attacking team. This rule will replace the requirement to return to an onside position without changing direction. A player may now choose any direction and change that direction, as long as their actions do not interfere with the attacking team.
• Any three consecutive infringements in the one possession by the defending team in their 7-metre zone will result in the last player to infringe being placed in the nearest sin-bin area until their team regains possession of the ball.
• Any touch made following an intercept or following a ball being touched in flight will be zero touch.
• Any player sent to the sin-bin will remain in the sin-bin for a compulsory two completed sets of possession by both teams. This will no longer be at the discretion of the referee and will provide greater consistency in its application.
• Any incorrect restart, i.e. a tap, is taken off the mark or taken instead of a Rollball will no longer result in a change of possession. The player will be simply required to return to the correct mark and perform the correct restart.
• Interchanges during a breakaway situation will be prohibited. Any player who enters the field from the interchange area during a breakaway, regardless of whether a try is scored or not, will be sent to the sin-bin.
• The drop-off procedure will be consistent with the international game and consistent across all major TFA events.
The above list covers the most prominent changes; there are additional and more subtle changes that have been adopted to ensure the rules reflect current game trends.
The 7th Edition has been in place for almost two decades and with shifting game trends over that time came a change to the way the rules were interpreted. It is TFA’s intention to monitor these trends more closely in the future and adjust the rules on a more regular basis. In order to do that, a National Game Committee will be created to monitor the trends of the game at all levels and make recommendations on future rule changes.
Once the new edition is ratified, TFA will roll out educational resources.