27th February 2020
The BAFA Rules Committee has announced the tackle football rule changes that will be brought into play on 1st March (except for the remainder of the BUCS season). The BAFA changes reflect changes made by IFAF and NCAA.
A new rule has prohibited "blind-side blocks". A blind‑side block is an open field block against an opponent that is initiated from outside the opponent’s field of vision, or otherwise in such a manner that the opponent cannot reasonably defend himself against the block. To be a foul, there must be "forcible contact", so just getting in the opponent's way or making modest contact are not fouls. You can still legally stop the ball carrier with a blind-side block, or a receiver attempting to make a catch, but other players have protection.
There are two changes to make free kicks slightly safer. Firstly the definition of an illegal wedge formation has been reduced from three to two players. Consequently all blockers on a return team will have to work independently of each other. The second change is to award a touchback to Team B for a fair catch completed between the 20-yard line and the goal line. This gives a small incentive to the receivers not to attempt a return.
Two small changes will reduce the tiredness that players may suffer if the game goes into multiple extra periods. Starting with the fifth extra period, instead of starting from the 25-yard line, extra periods will simply be a try down from the 3-yard line. There will also be a mandatory two-minute break period after the second and fourth extra periods.
The requirement to completely cover knee braces has been removed, provided there is no projection of metal or other hard material.
- Once we are in a "running clock" scenario, the game clock will start on the ready-for-play signal instead of during or after the kickoff.
- The tackle box is now centred on the middle lineman (like the free blocking zone).
- Pylon fallen over? Its status is now defined by rule.
- More power to the video judge to correct the game clock and to take other issues into account when reviewing one aspect of a play.
Jim Briggs, Chairman of both the BAFA Rules Committee and the IFAF Rules of the Game Committee said, "Each year we make improvements to the rules to make the game safer and to encourage better sportsmanship. This year's changes should bring greater clarity to players, coaches and officials about what is safe and fair."
There are a number of other minor rule changes. The full list is available here in PDF format. Note that the rulebook on the BAFA rules website has been updated with these changes.