The 2016 AFL rule changes have made the game attractive for the fans to watch as it has enabled a more offensive game to be produced on a weekly basis.
The three key rule changes that have been introduced are the protected area for players (increased from five meters to 10 meters), deliberate out-of-bounds enforced strongly, and the capped interchange at 90 per game.
The game had almost become a rolling scrum and was very defensive, and teams based their game plan around creating stoppages to set up structures. As a spectator I found the game frustrating and borderline boring to watch as it seemed scrappy and lacked flare.
Allowing players to roll off and play on with a much wider protected area and forcing players to keep the football in the field of play has proven to change the game for the better. Though there are some teams that have built their playing list to play a certain way are now struggling with the changes to the new game.
Fremantle, for instance, has always liked to create stoppages as they have Aaron Sandilands who dominates hit outs to players like Nat Fyfe and David Mundy, which allowed them to win the ball from the opposition and get the ball moving forward.
Fremantle would have recruited a certain style of player in the past two drafts to enhance their stoppage style of football, which is now proven to be the wrong path for the club. Ross Lyon and the recruiting team will now have to rebuild the list to keep up with the changing of the game.
The added introduction of the capped interchange from 120 per game down to 90 and the abolishment of the substitute has been the big winner. Player fatigue has allowed the game to open up in the second halves and this has allowed for higher scoring results and a freer flowing spectacle.
Getting rid of the substitute player was a good move by the AFL rules committee as it was a rule that was foreign to our game and it was tough for a player to be given a substitute vest at the start of the game and then asked to sit through 3 quarters of football and keep your mind and body in peak performance for your eventual call up.
It is obvious that the capped interchange will benefit the players who have great endurance and already we have seen players like Tom Scully (GWS), David Zaharakis (Essendon) and Andrew Gaff (West Coast) having great starts to 2016. All three players are elite runners within their footy clubs and it is noticeable when the games are well in to the second half, these players are running over the ground better than the opponent running with them.
As a spectator I now find the game entertaining and it is intriguing to tune in each week to find out which teams can best perform under the new rules. By now the clubs would have reviewed their playing lists and found out which players are suited to the new game style and whether they have the skill sets to benefit the playing styles required to win matches.
With all the changes over the past decade I am definitely giving the AFL a huge thumbs up with the introduction of the 2016 rules, as it has definitely made the game an attractive one for the spectators , who in return would spend their money to come and watch games live, or even invest in pay TV.