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BAFA Operations update

Monday, May 6, 2019

Further clarification added to competition rules, and updates on forfeits and self-officiating

Competition rules
Following recent issues with our insurance and a serious breach of our rules regarding youth contact players participating in junior contact activity, some further clarifications have been added to the competition rules.

The first point brings into the competition rules something that has been a part of BAFA Regulations for some time - any game involving at least one BAFA organisation is an Official BAFA game. This has always been a fact and it is added to the competition rules purely for further clarity

The second point gives additional clarity to the "no step back" rule for contact players in overlapping age groups moving to the older age group. It also makes it clear that this applies equally to 16 year olds playing junior contact and 18 year olds playing adult contact football.

The third point sets out in more detail the requirement for UK Residency and lists example documents that will meet that requirement. Adjustments have been made to the BAFA registration system to ensure that in future this requirement is prompted for on registration to avoid the need for any future exercise such as the one undertaken before Week 1 of this season.

The fourth point strengthens the rule on the impact of forfeiting on a team’s participation in play offs. Previously Competition Management had discretion to allow a team that had forfeited to advance into the play offs. This is inconsistent with our tougher approach to forfeits and it has therefore been amended to provide absolute clarity.

The final point tidies up the rules to include reference to the 7v7 format.

Operations Director Steve Rains said: "These amendments do not add anything new to the rules - what we have done is added further clarity to the competition rules to reflect what already existed within BAFA Regulations and the requirements of our insurance.

Strengthening the position on the impact of forfeits on play offs was necessary for fairness - given our much tougher line on forfeits it would have been deceptive to have continued to allow teams to imagine that they still had a chance of post-season opportunities."

Forfeits
We have sadly had the first adult contact forfeit of the season and it involves a team from Division 1. Clubs are reminded that before the start of this season the Competition Rules were amended to add automatic relegation to a yellow card offence for a Division 1 or Premier contact team that forfeits.

This measure, which has been made to provide greater future credibility for our top two tiers of adult contact competition, will be strictly enforced as will the existing rule that a red card for any club leads to dismissal from league status.

Adult Commission Lead Clive Dobbin said: "We were surprised that some people didn’t expect the relegation decision regarding the Ouse Valley Eagles - whilst we are sure everyone including BAFA Operations has sympathy for the Eagles we are determined to eradicate forfeits from the upper levels of the sport and we will rigorously apply this rule."

Self-Officiating
It was apparent that this was going to be a need in Division 2 adult contact this year and we openly discussed that with clubs at the League Meeting in December.

The previous open-door policy to new teams, a tighter calendar window for the season and a reduced number of BAFRA active officials have all contributed to this.

In order to enter the league through the associate process teams are required to have a minimum of three Level 1 BAFCA Coaches. Given the real possibility of a requirement for self-officiating, adult contact teams in Division 2 need to ensure they have at least three available when playing at home and a minimum of two available when playing away from home.

Teams that fail to meet their commitment under the rule (home team to supply two officials away team to provide one) will be held responsible for a forfeit if the game cannot be played. 

Operations Director Steve Rains commented: "Nobody wants this situation, but it is reality and Division 2 adult contact teams must be prepared for it. We gave ample notice this was coming at the League meeting in December and at the time we released the new guide to self-officiating.

Teams need to be planning ahead to ensure they have sufficient qualified coaches at their games to meet this potential commitment. This can of course be met by using their own coaches or by building links with neighbouring teams who are not playing on their home dates. We are doing all we can to avoid self-officiating and are meeting shortly with both BAFRA and BUCS to try to advance some ideas that will help with recruitment - everyone is on board with the need to do this but it will not solve the issue this season.

As was explained at the December meeting we are prioritising BAFRA coverage to Premier, Division 1 and Junior Division 1 contact. Therefore teams who have links with a Division 1 Junior contact team - or who can forge links in order to create double headers - stand a much better chance of guaranteeing coverage."

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