The BAFA rules committee has announced the rules changes that will go into effect on the 1st of March. The announcement was made on the 5th of Feb and follows changes made by IFAF and the NCAA. The full list can be found here.
For all rules, Team A is the team on offense and Team B on defense. Team A always begins with the ball in their possession.
But here are a list of the rules and how the rules have changed:
Last year BAFA added a rule that prohibited a player from wearing equipment that had been modified in a way that reduces the protection of the player wearing it. That rule now applies also if the modification would reduce anyone else’s protection. (Rule 1-4-7m)
The 40-second play clock will now run after most kickoffs and touchdowns. This will speed up play a little. (Rule 3-2-4)
The rule on blocking below the waist has been amended to place additional restrictions on backs within the tackle box. They must now engage opponents from the front like players in other parts of the field, and they may not “crackback” (i.e. block below the waist towards where the ball was snapped from). Importantly, no offensive player can block below the waist more than five yards beyond the neutral zone. (this changes rule 9-1-6a
Some provisions of the unsportsmanlike conduct rule previously only allowed officials to disqualify players and substitutes. That has now been extended so that coaches and other sideline personnel could now be disqualified for a single act of flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct. (Rule 9-2-1)
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The leaping rule has been modified to prohibit entering the space above a player’s head. This rule only applies on kicking plays. (9-1-11b
In a change to penalty enforcement options, a team can now accept both the points on a field goal and have a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty carried forward to the next kickoff. In the past, they had to decline the penalty to keep the points. The change aligns the rules on field goals with those that were previously the case on touchdowns and tries. (10-2-5d)
Teams that score a go ahead touchdown and as time expires and are ahead by one or two points may forego the extra point attempt. This means a team doesn’t have to take a knee to protect the lead. Introduced to help with game control. (Rule 8-3-2)
If an inadvertent whistle sounds during a kick, assuming it is untouched by Team B and has crossed the Neutral Zone, the ball will go to team B. Most fouls that occur during the kicks can now be enforced after the kick and as such does not return the Ball to Team A. (4-1-2-b).
No unusual action or verbiage may be used by Team to confuse an opponent into believing the snap or free kick is not imminent. This includes ‘pretending to have a problem with the play called, an equipment problem or feigning injury.’ (Rule 9-2-2)
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.”