New rules mean teams need to check equipment
Mar 2, 2023 - 2:22:18 PM

Two new rule changes adopted by BAFA could have an impact on the need for teams to buy new equipment.

Firstly, the maximum height of the tee used for kickoffs has been reduced from two inches to one inch. The intention of the rule change from US colleges is to reduce the number of touchbacks in the game and thus keep the clock moving, as well as creating a more exciting game. Teams may need to buy a new tee before the new rules come into effect at the start of the BAFL season on April 8th.

Secondly, players who wear tinted eye shields must replace them with clear ones. The rule has been simplified to make enforcement more consistent, and there are no longer any medical exceptions. Players who require some form of tinted eye protection are advised to use goggles that can be easily cut free rather than visors that are attached to the helmet.

There are also two changes to the timing rules, which may pose interesting situations for coaches in the last two minutes of each half, but are not expected to significantly reduce the number of plays in British games.

On a kickoff, the clock will start when the ball is kicked, rather than when it is first touched down field. On a change of possession, the clock will start on the ready for play instead of the snap.

"In the closing stages of a half, offensive coaches driving for a score need to make sure their team is on the field quickly and gets the ball snapped as soon as possible after the referee declares it ready," noted Jim Briggs, Chairman of the BAFA Rules Committee. "On the other hand, when a team is trying to run the clock out, they will be able to use up almost all of twenty-five seconds before needing to put the ball into play. It will be interesting to see how well coaches take advantage of the rule change."

There is one change to penalty enforcement. Certain fouls on punt plays can now be enforced from the end of the return, rather than making the offense kick again.

Finally, instant replay could be a feature of British American football in the future. The ability for teams to refer crucial plays to review has been introduced into the BAFA playing rules.

The move follows the standardisation of the procedures for instant replay in college football in the USA. Although it's not compulsory, and can only be used if the appropriate equipment and operators are available, any level of college football can adopt instant replay if it wants to. The same facility is now available in Britain.

There are a number of differences between the college instant replay system and the NFL one. In college, coaches only have one challenge per game, but the replay official can instigate a review at any time during the match. The review is conducted by the replay official in the booth, not by the referee at the sideline.

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