Rules of the Game

General Game Rules

The USAFL Executive Board has approved the following rules/laws for all USAFL clubs to adopt during the 2012 USAFL Season and at the 2012 National Tournament.

  1. The 50/50 participation rule. The Rule will apply for all divisions at USAFL Nationals:
    • Clubs are encouraged to use the 50/50 rule in all games during the year but it is not mandatory. Clubs should establish if the rule is to be used prior to playing any game.
    • The 50/50 participation rule is now changed from "can not play more than 9 Australians on the field" to "no more than 50% of the players on the field for a team can be  NON-NATIONALS".
    • A "Non-National" player is anyone that is not deemed an American or Canadian.
    • Nationality ruling to be determined by country of birth on passport.
    • If you play an Australian, an Irishmen, or a New Zealander for example….all these nationalities are all deemed "Non-Nationals".
    • If a player cannot prove "National Status" that player will be deemed a "Non-National". If you are an American or a Canadian, the onus will be on you to prove that status. If you cannot prove that status you will be deemed a "Non-National"
    • The Nationals Eligibility Point System for eligibility to play at USAFL Nationals to remains in place for all divisions.
    • Exemptions can still be applied for via your player registration.
  2. Eligibility to play at USAFL Nationals based on players city of residence v's players previous city (or cities) of residence.
    • Once you play your first organized inter-city game with a sanctioned USAFL club that is the only club you are deemed to be eligible to play for at Nationals.
    • A player can play a Metro or intra-club game and this does not bind you to that club for Nationals.
    • The rule only applies to inter-city games.
    • Exemptions can still be applied for.
  3. Kicking in after a behind is scored
    • USAFL clubs generally don't have the capacity to adopt the new AFL rule that allows players to kick the ball back in before the goal umpire waves their flags after a behind is scored.
    • We are sticking to the old rule where players can not kick in until the flags are waved.
  4. Center circle
    • We will adopt the AFL rule where only the ruckmen can be inside the (2nd) 10 m circle at a center bounce ruck contest
  5. Keeping "time on"
    • USAFL Clubs don't have the capacity to add time on for stoppages.
    • Games will continue to be played without "time on". At nationals, should there be a serious injury (i.e. a stretched or ambulance needs to come onto the field, time will be stopped, under the guidance of the central field umpire.
  6. Send Off Rule
    • If a player receives a Yellow card he or she is sent off for 15 minutes and can be replaced on the field.
    • If a player receives a Red card he or she is sent off for remainder of that game and cannot return to the field that day. The player will also be subjected to an automatic tribunal appearance. The player may be replaced on the field, but only after 15 minutes of play.

The USAFL Rules Committee look at all rules/laws of our game during the off-season to ensure we are keeping up with current AFL Laws and applying appropriate amendments & adjustments to those Laws that serve as practical interpretations for USAFL games. We also have established a set of our own unique USAFL rules/laws to better serve the development of the game here in the USA. If you have any questions please contact Doren James, USAFL Operations Manager. Umpires with questions should contact Jeff Persson at

For more details about the USAFL amendments to the AFL Laws, please click here >

USAFL National Tournament Specific Rules

The follow rules apply at the National Tournament:

  • ALL PLAYERS must be registered with the USAFL and have paid their player dues.
  • ALL GAMES are subject to the 50/50 rule - see below.
  • Games will be played in 2 x 20 minute halves with a 7-minute half time break.
  • USAFL Executive board decisions are final and will endeavor at all times to take into account all clubs needs and wants.
  • All teams must attend the team meetings to get the coach’s packs and understand the firm tribunal proceedings for this year.
  • If any club feels they have information about opposing clubs using ineligible players at the Nationals, the Tournament Committee must be notified BEFORE the first games played, through the appropriate channels.

The Nationals Draw is subject to change prior to commencement of the tournament. Please ensure that the USAFL Operations Manager has a reliable cell phone number contact for your team.

Team Numbers

Player numbers for each division format will be slightly different, per the below guidelines:

Division I
18 players a-side with 6 interchange players (24 players max.)

Division II
18 players a-side with 6 interchange players (24 players max.)

Divisions III
18 players a-side (Captains of each team if in agreement may choose to run a different number, which must be worked out prior to the games start time and umpires must be notified. No maximum number of players for Division 3)

Division IV
14-16 players a-side (Captains of each team must be in agreement on the number of players and the umpires must be notified. Any disagreements will be resolved by the Tournament Committee. No maximum number of players in the Reserves Division)

Women's Division
16 players a-side (coaches of each team if in agreement may choose to run a different number, which must be worked out prior to the games start time and umpires must be notified.)

Top ranked team from each pool will advance to the Championship game. Rankings will be based upon:

  1. Total Championship points
  2. Percentage (points scored/points allowed)
  3. Points scored
  4. Goals scored
  5. Head to Head
  6. Toss of coin
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