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AFL reveals zero tolerance policy on punches

Wide World of Sports logo Wide World of Sports 12/02/2019 Chris De Silva
Andrew Brayshaw. © Getty Andrew Brayshaw.

After a season which was somewhat marred by a brutal altercation between Andrew Gaff and Andrew Brayshaw, the AFL has taken a stand.

AFL umpires coach Hayden Kennedy has revealed that umpires had been told to issue instant free kicks for every punch that occurs with a closed fist.

In previous seasons, players punching with a closed fist often escaped an in-game punishment, particularly if the incident occurred off the ball like Gaff and Brayshaw's clash.

However, the edict for the umpires to pay instant free kicks will result in players being warned of the in-game impact that such an error can have.

a man standing in front of a building: Docker Andrew Brayshaw’s dad Mark says his son and Eagle Andrew Gaff have moved on from on field hit. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Docker Andrew Brayshaw’s dad Mark says his son and Eagle Andrew Gaff have moved on from on field hit.

Kennedy confirmed that punches with low impact will also be subjected to the new ruling in an attempt to completely take closed-fist punches out of the game.

"Those punches will still be dealt with by the MRO but we will be paying free kicks for strikes even though the force is on the lower end," Kennedy told News Corp.

"That is the instruction this year, if we see any player using a fist in a striking motion.

"That is going to be difficult at times because a player might turn his back on us or an umpire not be sure if a fist is used, but the instruction is not to accept a strike at all.

"In regards to other types of prohibited contact like the use of elbows, we will have to watch those carefully too."

Umpires will certainly have their hands full in 2019 having to look out for punches while also keeping tabs on the the nine new rules set to be introduced, including the polarising 6-6-6 centre bounce set up.

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