AFL Rules Part B: General & Definitions




Unless the context requires otherwise, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

  • AFL: the Australian Football League.
  • AFL Anti-Doping Code: the code adopted by the AFL (and any variation), which regulates the use and administration of drugs by Players competing in the competitions conducted by the AFL.
  • AFL Rules: the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the AFL, the AFL Player Rules, the AFL Regulations and any resolution or determination passed from time to time by the AFL Commission.
  • All Clear or Touched All Clear: the verbal and visual instruction given by a field Umpire for the goal Umpire to signal and record a Goal or a Behind, as the case may be.
  • Arena: means the Playing Surface and all of the area between the Playing Surface and the perimeter fence, including any break in the perimeter fence.
  • Australian Football: the contest played between two Teams competing in accordance with these Laws.
  • Behind: the recording of 1 point, when any of the circumstances described in Law 12.1.2 occur.
  • Behind Line: the white lines marked on the Playing Surface between the goal posts and the behind posts.
  • Boundary Line: the white line drawn on the ground to identify the Playing Surface, as described in Law 3.2.
  • Centre Circles: the area on the Playing Surface described in Law 3.3.
  • Centre Square: the area on the Playing Surface described in Law 3.3.
  • Charge or Charging: the conduct described in Law 15.4.4.
  • Controlling Body: the league, association or other body described in Law 2.1.
  • Correct Disposal or Correctly Dispose: disposing of the football in a manner permitted under Law 15.3.1.
  • Correct Tackle or Correctly Tackled: the conduct permitted under Law 15.4.1.
  • Fifty-Metre Penalty: the act of advancing by 50 metres towards the centre of the Goal Line, the position on the Playing Surface where a Player has been awarded a Free Kick or a Mark.
  • Fifty-Metre Arc: the line drawn in the shape of an arc at each end of the Playing Surface to show that the distance to the centre of the Goal Line is fifty metres.
  • Free Kick: giving possession of the football to a Player on the occasions described in Law 15.
  • Goal: recording of 6 points, when any of the circumstances described in 12.1.1 occur.
  • Goal Line: the white line marked on the Playing Surface between each goal post.
  • Goal Square: the areas on the Playing Surface described in Law 3.6.
  • Handball: the act of holding the football in one hand and disposing of the football by hitting it with the clenched fist of the other hand.
  • Home and Away Matches: the Matches played between Teams to determine the premier Team or those Teams who will compete in a finals series to determine the premier Team.
  • Interchange Area: the area marked on the Boundary Line through which Players may enter and leave the Playing Surface.
  • Interchange Player(s): the Player(s) of a Team who are not on the Playing Surface but who are listed on the Team Sheet and available to replace a Player on the Playing Surface.
  • Interchange Steward: the person(s) appointed by the relevant Controlling Body to monitor and approve the interchange of Players during a Match.
  • Kick or Kicking: in relation to disposing of the football, means making contact with the football with any part of the Player’s leg below the knee.
  • Kick-Off Line: the straight line drawn on the Playing Surface which runs parallel with the Goal Line, as described in Law 3.6.
  • Mark: has the meaning described in Law 14.1.
  • Match: the contest of Australian Football played between two Teams.
  • Melee: an incident involving three or more Players and/or officials who are grappling or otherwise struggling with one another and which, in the opinion of the field Umpire or any other person authorised by the relevant Controlling Body, is likely to bring the game of Australian Football into disrepute or prejudice the interests or reputation of the relevant Controlling Body or the competition(s) conducted by that Controlling Body.
  • Member Protection Policy or MPP: means the policy endorsed by the AFL Executive, that provides governance to affiliates of the AFL, including Affiliated State & Territory Bodies to promote ethical and informed decision-making and responsible behaviours within Australian Football.
  • Official: includes but is not limited to an officer, coach, assistant coach, trainer, runner, employee or any person performing any duties (paid or unpaid) for or on behalf of the club or Team.
  • Out of Bounds: means the football passes completely over the Boundary Line or touches a behind post or touches padding or any other attachment to the behind post but before doing so, touches the ground or is touched by a Player. If any portion of the football is on or above the Boundary Line, the football is not Out of Bounds.
  • Out of Bounds on the Full: means the football, having been Kicked, passes completely over the Boundary Line without touching the ground within the Playing Surface or being touched by a Player, or the football has touched the behind post or passed over the behind post without touching the ground or being touched by a Player.
  • Player: a person who plays or is selected to play with a Team or a person who otherwise trains with a Team or who is within the purview of these Laws.
  • Playing Surface: the field of play inside the Boundary Line, Goal Line and Behind Line, excluding the area between such lines and the perimeter fence.
  • Play On or Touched Play On: the verbal and visual instruction given by a field Umpire to indicate that:
    (a) a Free Kick or Mark will not be awarded and play will continue; or
    (b) a Player has attempted to dispose of the football other than in a direct line over the mark and the football is therefore in play.
  • Prohibited Contact: contact between Players which is prohibited under Law 15.4.5.
  • Protected Area: the area described in Law 16.1.2.
  • Ruck: Player who engages in the initial contest of the Football following a bounce, throw up or boundary throw in.
  • Shepherd: the contact described in Law 15.4.2.
  • Team: the group of Players competing against another group of Players in a Match of Australian Football.
  • Team Runner(s): the person(s) appointed to deliver messages to the Players of a Team during a Match.
  • Team Sheet: the document which must be completed and lodged by each Team under Law 5.3.
  • Timekeeper(s): the person(s) appointed by a Controlling Body (or Teams) to keep the time of a Match.
  • Time Wasting: occurs where a field Umpire is of the opinion that a Player is unnecessarily causing a delay in play.
  • The Mark: the position on the Playing Surface where an opposition Player may stand after a Player has been awarded a Free Kick or a Mark, as described in Law 16.1.1.
  • Throw: shall be given its ordinary meaning, but also includes the act of propelling the football with one or both hands in a scooping motion. A Player does not throw the football if the Player hits, punches or taps the football without taking possession of the football.
  • Umpire: includes all of the field, boundary, goal and emergency Umpires officiating or at a Match.
  • Under-Age Competition: a competition conducted between Teams in which the age of the Players in each Team fall within a specified age category or below an age limit.

    In the interpretation of these Laws, unless the context requires otherwise:
    (a) words importing the singular shall be deemed to include the plural and vice versa;
    (b) words importing any gender shall be deemed to include the other gender;
    (c) headings are included for convenience only and shall not affect the interpretation of these Laws;
    (d) “including” and similar words are not words of limitation;
    (e) any words, terms or phrases defined in the remainder of these Laws shall have the meaning prescribed within the particular Law; and
    (f) words, terms or phrases not otherwise defined in these Laws shall be given their ordinary meaning.


    Where any provision in the AFL Rules or Regulations is inconsistent with any provision contained in these Laws, the provision in the AFL Rules shall prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.


    The AFL may from time to time change these Laws and make further Laws in its absolute discretion.