Rules changes for 2018
7th February 2018
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.
As usual, the most important changes are to do with player safety. There is now a general rule that prohibits altering equipment to reduce its effectiveness. If such equipment is worn, the player will be sent to the sideline until it is replaced. The rule about mandatory knee pads now requires them to cover the knees (amazingly some players didn't think that was what they were for!); they must also be at least ½-inch thick.
Leaping in an attempt to block a field goal is also restricted for safety reasons. Only players lined up within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage can legally leap to attempt to block the kick. Players who run up from further behind the line cannot do so. Previously they could run up and leap provided they didn't land on top of anyone else. Now it is a foul wherever they land.
A ball carrier sliding feet-first to give himself up is an increasingly common play. Similar to the NFL, such players will have extra protection because the ball will now be considered dead when they begin their slide.
To prevent teams fooling around on a kickoff, the kicking team can no longer run across their restraining line without kicking the ball.
In the past, one form of illegal equipment was treated completely differently from others - players with cleats that were too long were disqualified. Although rare, it was thought this penalty was disproportionate, so from this season illegal cleats will be treated like any other equipment fault - i.e. the player is sent to the sideline until the problem is fixed.
- Advertising is allowed on goal posts.
- If a game is played indoors, the roof should be at least 90 feet above the field.
- If played indoors with a retractable roof, there are now rules covering when it must be closed.
- The running clock rule can be delayed until 2 hours 15 minutes have elapsed in games that are broadcast live (internet streaming doesn't count).
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. While this year's changes are minor relative to some previous years, we expect that they will make the game safer for all participants."
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.