AFL Rules: Commencing Play and Choice of Goal

11. COMMENCING PLAY AND CHOICE OF GOAL

11.1 CHOICE OF GOAL

The end of the Playing Surface to which a Team shall play shall be decided by the toss of a coin as follows:
(a) the field Umpire (or such other person approved by the Controlling Body) shall toss the coin;
(b) before the coin is tossed, the captain of the away Team shall call “the fall of the coin”;
(c) the captain of the Team who wins the toss of the coin shall choose the end to which their Team shall play in the first quarter; and
(d) at the conclusion of each quarter, the Teams shall change ends.

11.2 COMMENCEMENT OF PLAY

11.2.1 Readiness to Commence Play
(a) All Interchange Players must leave the Playing Surface two minutes prior to the scheduled starting time of a Match, being the time when the Timekeepers sound the siren 3 times.
(b) Before commencing play in each quarter, the field Umpire shall:
(i) ensure that the Timekeepers are ready to commence timing the Match; and
(ii) confirm with each captain that each Team is ready to commence play.

11.2.2 Commencing Play
(a) The field Umpire shall take up a position on the white line either side of the Centre Circle prior to bouncing the football.
(b) Unless Law 11.2.2 (c) applies, the field Umpire shall commence play in each quarter by holding the football above their head, blowing a whistle and bouncing or throwing the football in the Centre Circle.
(c) Where the field Umpire awards a Free Kick to a Player before bouncing the football, the field Umpire shall signal time on, blow their whistle and give the football to the Player. The Timekeepers shall acknowledge commencement of play.
(d) The Timekeeper shall commence the clock used for timing the Match when the football touches the ground
in the act of bouncing or leaves the Umpire’s hands in the act of throwing the football in the air, or when a Player, who has been awarded a Free Kick, brings the football into play or when the Umpire calls ‘play on’.

11.2.3 Report to Controlling Body
The field Umpire shall advise the Controlling Body of any occasion when a Team is not ready to commence play at the scheduled starting time. The Controlling Body may impose a sanction as determined in the absolute discretion of the Controlling Body.

11.3 BOUNCING THE FOOTBALL

11.3.1 Centre Square and Bouncing or Throwing up of the Football
The field Umpire shall bounce the football on the occasions and at the position on the Playing Surface as set out in following table:

Occasion Position on Playing Surface
Unless Law 11.3.2 applies, at the start of each quarter or after a Goal has been scored. The Centre Circle.
Where the football has become trapped as two or more opposing Players struggle for possession of the football. Where the football becomes trapped.
Where a field Umpire is unsure about which Player has taken a Mark or has cancelled a Mark in accordance with Law 14.6(b). Where the Mark was contested or cancelled.
When a Player fails to bring the football back into play after a Behind has been scored in accordance with Law 13. The centre of the Kick-Off Line.
When the field Umpire throws the football and the football crosses the Goal, Behind or Boundary Line without being touched by a Player. The position where the initial throw took place.
When a Player, who has claimed to have taken a Mark which is not awarded by the field Umpire, is Correctly Tackled by an opponent, provided the field Umpire is of the opinion that the Player did not hear or see the field Umpire’s signal of “Touched Play On” or “Play On”. Where the Player is Correctly Tackled.
When the goal Umpire is unable to decide whether a Goal or a Behind has been scored. The centre of the Kick-Off Line.
When a Player or Players from both Teams enter the Centre Square at the same time contrary to Law 11.3.4. The Centre Circle.
When the football accidentally hits any part of a stadium roof structure (other than the roof beams). The position on the Playing Surface nearest to where the football hit the stadium roof structure.
Unless a Free Kick or a Mark is awarded, if the football is in the proximity of an injured Player. The location of the football when play is stopped.

11.3.2 Free Kick Awarded
If the field Umpire awards a Free Kick to a Player during the period between when a Goal is scored and the football is bounced, play shall recommence when the Player brings the football into play or the Umpire calls play on.

11.3.3 Throwing up Football
The field Umpire may throw the football in the air:
(a) where they are of the opinion that the conditions are unsuitable for bouncing but before doing so, shall advise the Players accordingly; or
(b) if directed to do so by the Controlling Body.

11.3.4 Permitted Numbers at the Centre Bounce
When the football is bounced to start a quarter or recommence play after a Goal has been scored, the following shall apply:
(a) a maximum of 4 Players from each Team are permitted in the Centre Square;
(b) of the 4 Players, one player from each team is permitted to be within the 10 metre circle;
(c) no Player (other than the 4 initial Players) or Team Official shall enter the Centre Square from the time the field Umpire commences their approach to the Centre Circle to bounce the football until the football touches the ground, in the act of bouncing, or leaves the field Umpire’s hand, in the act of being thrown up;
(d) where a Player or Team Official contravenes Law 11.3.4 (b), the field Umpire shall signal time on and award a Free Kick to the Player of the opposing Team who is nearest to the Centre Circle. The Free Kick to be taken in the centre of the Playing Surface behind the line through the Centre Circle;
(e) where a Player has been pushed or otherwise forced into the Centre Square in contravention of Law 11.3.4 (b), the Free Kick shall be awarded against the Team which caused the transgression and all the provisions of Law

11.3.4 shall apply;
(f) the advantage Law shall not apply: where Players or Officials from opposing Teams simultaneously encroach, the Umpire shall blow their whistle and direct the offending personnel to exit the Centre Square;
(g) if an injured Player is receiving treatment (but does not require a stretcher) in the Centre Square at the time of a centre bounce, the field Umpire shall:
(i) instruct the Player to immediately leave the Centre Square; and
(ii) not recommence play until the Player has left the Centre Square;
(h) if an injured Player does not leave the Centre Square upon being instructed to do so, the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick to the Player of the opposing Team who is nearest to the Centre Circle; and
(i) where an injured Player requires a stretcher at the time of a centre bounce, Law 7.3 shall apply.

11.3.5 Contesting the Centre Bounce
(a) The centre bounce or throw up shall be contested by one nominated Player from each Team. Such Player shall be nominated to the field Umpire prior to the bounce or throw of the football. The Player contesting the centre bounce shall be positioned in their Team’s defensive half of the Playing Surface and with both feet within the 10-metre circle until they contest the bounce or until the Umpire calls play on due to an “offline bounce”. The Player may only enter the Team’s attacking half after the football touches the ground, in the act of bouncing, or leaves the field Umpire’s hand, in the act of being thrown up. The Player shall not be permitted to block an opponent’s approach to the contest. No other Player may enter the 10-metre circle until the football touches the ground, in the act of bouncing, or leaves the field Umpires hand, in the act of being thrown up.
(b) Where a Player contravenes Law 11.3.5 (a), the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick to the ruckman on the opposing Team.
(c) Unless otherwise determined by the Controlling Body, where the field Umpire bounces the football off line, the field Umpire shall immediately call “Play On” and the football may be contested by any Player.
11.3.6 Recalling bounces
(a) A field Umpire may recall any bounce or throw up that in the Umpire’s opinion does not allow for the football to be contested.
(b) Where a field Umpire recalls a bounce under 11.3.6(a), the football should be thrown up to restart play.