MLU Announces Rules: Much Like The AUDL Plus Tipping, Flagrant Fouls

The logo of Major League Ultimate, the new professional Ultimate league.Major League Ultimate announced the first edition of their rulebook over the weekend. The key takeaway is that the rules look a lot like those of the American Ultimate Disc League while still preserving much of the established USA Ultimate ruleset.

Similar to the AUDL, the MLU will play on regulation football fields. The endzones will be 20 yards deep, making an 80 yard playing field that is 13 1/3 yards wider than the normal ultimate field. The 33% wider field makes defense difficult, according to many players and fans of the AUDL, but both professional leagues like the consistent and familiar nature of the football field.

As in the AUDL, the MLU will use referees to officiate the game, double teaming will be legal, the stall count will be seven seconds (counted by the referee), and thrower travels are an instant turnover.

Now we can start to look at some of the distinctions. Firstly, the MLU will make tipping the disc legal, even by the person who threw the disc. The rules define tipping as “the act of an offensive player intentionally hitting, brushing, or otherwise advancing the disc in any direction via any impact strike without ever establishing possession of the disc.” The most obvious application here is to be running down a disc near the endzone, tipping it once or twice to yourself, and catching it in the endzone for the score. Possession is only established once caught and the disc has no rotation.

There are 5- and 20-yard penalties in the MLU. The five yard penalties are assessed for disc space, vision blocking, triple teaming, delay of game, receiver travels, picks, contact, elbow swinging by the thrower, and altered movement (using assistance to make a play on the disc).

Flagrant fouls result in a 20-yard penalty and a loss of possession. Those fouls are unsportsmanlike conduct, which includes the use of profanity, spiking the disc on or near an opponent, disrespect to the referees, and serious physical contact with the opponent. Fighting, also a flagrant, is a separate category.

Flagrant fouls can also earn players “bands,” which serve as something like a yellow card in soccer. At the discretion of the referees, a player can be given a “band” for “excessively physical action that potentially endangers another player.” The player must wear a bright orange band on his arm for the remainder of the game. If he gets a second, he is ejected. Three bands over the course of a season earn a player a one-game suspension.

In the AUDL, there is the so-called “Integrity Rule,” which allows players to overturn a call that has gone in their favor, if the believe that it should not have been called. This was the AUDL’s attempt to codify Spirit of the Game into their rules.

The MLU does a similar thing; they dub it “Spirit of Sportsmanship.” They allow any player on the field or the head coach to overturn specific calls under the “integrity rule.” The defense can overturn out-of-bounds calls, line calls on the endzone, up/down calls, travel calls, and simultaneous catch calls (only to the advantage of the offense, of course). The offense can overturn in/out calls, up/down calls, and foul calls.

In short, the MLU based their rules heavily on the model created by the AUDL last season. Although they add some new twists like tipping and banding/flagrant fouls, the core game will look a lot like it does in the AUDL.

The full rulebook can be downloaded here.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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