Prioritising player safety, World Netball has made several changes to its rules, which will come into effect on 1 January, 2024, following a comprehensive consultation process.
Periodically the World Netball Rules Advisory Panel (RAP) reviews the rules of netball to maintain the spectacle of the game, continuing the sport’s evolution and positive outcomes for all involved.
In highlighting the priority of player safety, the contact rule has been re-written to explicitly outline the game management sanction to apply for a contact with a player’s neck or head, and introducing more prescribed techniques to help umpires deal with particularly dangerous play.
In a new rule which is also aimed at player safety, foul play has been defined and includes unfair play, unsporting behaviour and dangerous play.
The aim under the revised game management section is to simplify how it is applied, address dangerous play, address the high number of penalties in some matches and provide greater consequences for individuals playing outside the rules while maintaining a safe and fair contest.
There is also wider clarification of the correct interpretation of the contact rule which includes, “Causing Contact: Player in the Air” and “Causing Contact: Moving Player.”
“Overhauling the game management side of things is the major change in the rules,” Netball New Zealand National Technical Officials Manager Garrat Williamson said.
“Other than that, they’ve simplified the rule book and made it easier to understand, not just for umpires to apply them but for players, coaches and the general public who might be interested in understanding the rules, as well. They’ve provided more clarification around some of the wording.”
Other changes include the short pass rule which has been rewritten to reinstate equality for all players to attack and defend, and now requiring sufficient space for an opposing player to be able to deflect or intercept the ball as it moves from the hands of the passer to those of the receiver. The principal objective being that every pass is contestable.
The advantage rule has been updated with greater clarification around the “tactical territorial advantage” wording which previously had been hard to interpret as an umpire, player or coach and aims to allow a more free-flowing spectacle.
The toss up rule, which has been almost obsolete in recent years, has been replaced. Instead, a more manageable solution for any simultaneous infringement phases has been added with possession being awarded to the team who had possession of the ball immediately prior to that infringement.
Stoppage time for injury or illness now comes into line with how it has been adopted in the ANZ Premiership where teams don’t have to give a reason for time-out. Once a substitution is requested, the umpire can halt time for that to happen.
That has been in place in the ANZ Premiership since 2017 with the approval of World Netball and the governing body has now adopted the rule internationally.
The only difference is that the substitution needs to happen after a goal has been scored which is a subtle change to how it was employed in the ANZ Premiership and how World Netball has re-written it.
Clarity has also been added to the scoring of a goal after the whistle has gone.
The previous version was that the ball had to be wholly through the goal ring before the whistle sounded, meaning the umpire had to judge if that had happened and the timing of when they blew the whistle.
In the new ruling, the ball has only to have left the shooter’s hands when the whistle is blown for it to be counted.
“We’re going to work closely with people in our high performance and community environments to support them to help imbed these changes,” Williamson said.
“It’s going to take some patience but it’s an exciting opportunity to keep adding to the quality and positive impact of netball.”