The AFL has written to all 18 clubs to outline and clarify the position around rough conduct and “sliding into contests”.

AFL General Manager Football Operations Adrian Anderson said the AFL and the Laws Committee had last year identified sliding into contests as an emerging tactic in the game and had notified all clubs in its pre-season DVD of its concern around the potential for serious injury to players.

Anderson said the practice had increased in prevalence through the early part of the 2012 Toyota AFL Premiership Season and the medical advice to the AFL was that the potential for serious injury to players would continue to rise.

All clubs were today provided with formal correspondence from Anderson, with some of the points including a reminder of the 2012 Laws DVD, which was presented to all AFL clubs earlier this year, that referred to sliding as an emerging dangerous tactic with the potential to cause serious injury.

The DVD stated that a free kick would be awarded if a player slides into an opponent and that the matter could be referred to the Match Review Panel.

Anderson said players had a duty of care to opponents to not slide into a contest with their knees or feet first, when there was the potential to injure an opponent.

AFL umpires have been instructed to be particularly aware of the tactic and to pay free kicks against players who slide in, where there is contact to a player below the knee and the risk of injury.

Anderson said free kicks would also be paid for feet/knees first contact even where the offending player is first to the ball, citing Kangaroo Lindsay Thomas and Freo Docker Greg Broughton’s recent incidents as examples.

It was the AFL’s view that some free kicks should already have been paid this season against players for sliding into other players. In addition, given recent Tribunal decisions related to the practice, the AFL will re-examine its guidelines around rough conduct for the Tribunal, in serious cases where injury may occur.

“The AFL’s primary concern around the Laws of the Game continues to be the safety of our players,” Anderson said.

“It is not illegal to slide to contest the ball, but players must be aware of the potential for injury if they slide into an opponent’s knees or ankles.

“Our medical advice is that sliding into contests has the real potential to result in season-ending, or even career-ending, injuries, and that is something that no-one in the game wants to see.”

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