British American Football Association BAFA Rules Committee
League regulationsLeague regulations
Field markingsField markings
GuidanceMedical requirements
Previous rulebooksPrevious rulebooks
Other documentsOther documents
Other documentsIFAF rulebook 2022
BAFA home pageBAFA home page
BAFRA home pageBAFRA home page

BAFA Rules Committee

BAFA Rules Changes 2009

Jim Briggs, Chair BAFA & BAFRA Rules Committees

February 2009

The following table lists all the rules changes adopted for 2009 (including NCAA changes introduced in 2008). The changes take effect from 1st March 2009 (except for the remainder of the BUAFL season).

Rule number

Rule difference


1-2-1-a-2-a Minimum end zone size is 7 yards Previously it was 8 yards. This rule makes a small number of otherwise satisfactory venues legal.

Any attempt to record, either through audio or video means, any signals given by an opposing player, coach, or other team personnel is prohibited.

Don't do what the Patriots got caught doing!

When an official signals that the ball is dead, the play clock shall begin a 40-second count.

In Britain, this rule will only apply in the rare event that there are stadium play clocks. In all other circumstances, the old 25-second clock rule will apply.
2-3-3 A chop block is a high-low or low-high combination block by any two players against an opponent (not the runner) anywhere on the field, with or without a delay between contacts; the “low” component is at the opponent’s thigh or below. This considerably simplifies the old chop block rule, making it easier to coach and officiate.
2-19-3-b Entire passer has to be beyond neutral zone for pass to be illegal. If any part of the passer's body is in or behind the neutral zone when he releases the ball, it is legal.
Deleted the rules that (h) introduced a 15-second play clock after a TV timeout; (i) adjusted the game clock after an inadvertent whistle. These simplify the timing rules.
3-2-5-a-12 The game clock will start on the ready for play when a ball carrier, a fumble or a backward pass goes out of bounds. (Exception:  Within the last two minutes of each half the clock starts on the snap) Brings NCAA in line with NFL rules. Will have the effect of shortening games very slightly.
6-1-2 On a free kick, the referee declares ball ready when officials in position. Technically, this is not a rule change in Britain, since it is what we have always done in practice.
6-2-1 Penalty for kickoff out of bounds restored to 30 yards beyond Team A's restraining line.

This was 35, thus the change gives the receiving team a slight advantage if they choose this means of penalising a kickoff out of bounds.

8-3-4-a Penalties for flagrant personal fouls on try are carried over to the following kickoff Avoids extreme penalties having to be declined.

All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the runner down.  This does not apply to a runner who is inside the tackle box or to a quarterback who is in the pocket.

Prohibits the "horse collar" tackle. Note that it does not apply if the runner is not immediately pulled down, nor if he is inside the tackle box/pocket.
9-1-2-q Five-yard facemask foul eliminated. Incidental grasping of the facemask is no longer a foul. Grasping and twisting or pulling remains a 15-yard penalty.

No player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. 

No player shall initiate contact and target a defenseless opponent above the shoulders.

A reorganisation of the rules on targeting opponents. The Points of Emphasis in the rulebook define a defenseless player.

Intepretation of this rule will be tightened and may lead to more players being disqualified for these fouls.


If, while the ball is in play, coaches, substitutes and authorized attendants are in the restricted area between the sideline and the coaching box or on the field of play, there is a 5-yard penalty for the first and second infractions, and a 15-yard penalty for third and subsequent ones.

Previously, the first and second infractions resulted in a sideline warning. The warning is now dispensed with and teams will be penalised for a first offence.

Changes to the instant replay rule allow:

  • field goals to be reviewed
  • immediate fumble recovery after a whistle to be awarded
  • immediate score to be awarded after a player incorrectly ruled out of bounds
  • replay official to correct egregious errors
  • coaches to have a second challenge during the game if their first one is upheld

The full text of the rules can be found at

Questions about the changes should be addressed to