BAFA Rules Changes for 2019

The British American Football Association have shared some helpful guidance on the rules changes that will be coming into effect ahead of the summer seasons.

Coaches and players can make sure they’re up to speed with all the new regulations by checking out the guidance, as well as the full list of updates.


The BAFA Rules Committee has announced the tackle football rule changes that will be brought into play on 1 March (except for the remainder of the BUCS season). The BAFA changes reflect changes made by IFAF and NCAA.

The BAFA Rules Committee has announced the tackle football rule changes that will be brought into play on 1 March (except for the remainder of the BUCS season). The BAFA changes reflect changes made by IFAF and NCAA.

The rule on blocking below the waist has been amended to place additional restrictions on backs within the tackle box. They must now engage opponents from the front like players in other parts of the field, and they may not “crackback” (i.e. block below the waist towards where the ball was snapped from). Importantly, no offensive player can block below the waist more than five yards beyond the neutral zone.

The 40-second play clock will now run after most kickoffs and touchdowns. This will speed up play a little.

Some provisions of the unsportsmanlike conduct rule previously only allowed officials to disqualify players and substitutes. That has now been extended so that coaches and other sideline personnel could now be disqualified for a single act of flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct.

Last year we added a rule that prohibited a player from wearing equipment that had been modified in a way that reduces the protection of the player wearing it. That rule now applies also if the modification would reduce anyone else’s protection.

The leaping rule has been modified to prohibit entering the space above a player’s head. This rule only applies on kicking plays.

In a change to penalty enforcement options, a team can now accept both the points on a field goal and have a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty carried forward to the next kickoff. In the past, they had to decline the penalty to keep the points. The change aligns the rules on field goals with those that were previously the case on touchdowns and tries.

Other changes:

  • Live video cannot be created within a team’s team area. Live video can still be created from elsewhere in the stadium and recorded video can still be created from within the team area, but live video within the team area might be used by an opponent to gain an advantage.
  • Changes to when the clock starts after a penalty in the last two minutes of a half.
  • The spot of the foul for a illegal block out of bounds is now the point on the sideline nearest to where it occurs.
  • “Heading” the ball is now treated the same as batting it.
  • An inadvertent whistle during a kick is now treated more equitably if the ball would normally belong to the receiving team.
  • A team may forgo the try if it scores as time expires.
  • More power to the video judge to correct the game clock and to take other issues into account when reviewing one aspect of a play.
  • [From 1st October 2019 for BUCS only] The Competition Authority may require the away team to provide one of the official’s assistants to act as a ball person.

Jim Briggs, Chairman of both the BAFA Rules Committee and the IFAF Rules of the Game Committee said: “Each year we make improvements to the rules to make the game safer and to encourage better sportsmanship. This year’s changes should bring greater clarity to players, coaches and officials about what is safe and fair.”

There are a number of other minor rule changes. The full list is available here in PDF format. Note that the rulebook on the BAFA rules website has been updated with these changes.

Important links:

A reminder about the rules on High Hits

A reminder on rules for Blocking Below The Waist

Full list of 11-on-11 rules changes for 2019
Full 2019 rulebook
BAFA rules website





Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1