Here Are The Main Proposed Changes to the 2021-2024 WFDF Ruleset

Head WFDF game advisor Greg Connolly. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

The World Flying Disc Federation rulebook, which governs play outside of North America and during all international competitions, is set for its quadrennial update that will cover the years 2021-2024.

WFDF recently released a draft of the proposed rule changes (pdf) and is currently soliciting feedback from players. Here is a summary of the major proposed changes.

Allowing Captains to Address Rulebreaking (1.2.1)

“If there is a deliberate or egregious breach of the rules or Spirit of the Game, the captains should discuss this and determine an appropriate outcome, even if that outcome is not in accordance with a specific rule.”

This is a new addendum to the long established rule 1.2 (“It is trusted that no player will intentionally break the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent breaches, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner which simulates what would most likely have occurred had there been no breach.”) that gives captains the ability to address rulebreaking in an agreed-upon manner.

No More Re-Pulls on Uncontested Offside Calls (7.5.1 and 7.5.2)

“If the defence chooses to call offside, the thrower must establish a pivot point…and then play restarts as soon as possible as if a time-out had been called at that location.”

“If the offence chooses to call offside, they must let the disc hit the ground untouched and then resume play as if a brick has been called (no check is required).”

These changes move some alterations from the appendix into the main body of the rules. Previously, offside calls required an immediate re-pull. Now, re-pulls only take place on contested offside calls.

This also codifies the reduced penalty for repeated offsides, following WFDF’s ethos that rulebreaking is always considered unintentional.

Player Positioning and Initiating Contact Clarifications (12.6 and 12.7)

New language in bold.

12.6: “All players must attempt to avoid contact with other players, and there is no situation where a player may justify initiating contact. This includes avoiding initiating contact with a stationary opponent, or an opponent’s expected position based on their established speed and direction. “Making a play for the disc” is not a valid excuse for initiating contact with other players.”

12.6.1: “If a player is not reasonably certain that they will be able to make a legal play at the disc before an opponent who is moving in a legal manner, they must adjust their movements to avoid initiating contact. If that adjustment is made, the result of the play still stands.

12.7: “The player who initiates contact is deemed to be the player who arrived at the point of contact after the opponent had already established a position at that point (either a stationary or moving opponent), or adjusted their movements in a way that created unavoidable contact, when taking into account all players’ established position, speed and direction.

Language Update from “Incidental Contact” to “Minor Contact” (15.1 and Definitions)

Minor Contact Definition: “Contact that involves minimal physical force and does not alter the movements or position of another player. Contact with an opponent’s extended arms or hands that are about to, or already are, contacting the disc, or contact to the thrower’s hand during the throwing motion, is never considered to be minor contact.”

15.1: “A breach of the rules due to non-minor contact between two or more opposing players is a foul. A player intentionally initiating minor contact is still a breach of the rules, but is to be treated as a violation, and not a foul.”

The Continuation Rule Applies to All Calls (16.3)

New language in bold.

“Regardless of when any call is made, if the players involved from both teams agree that the event or call did not affect the outcome, the play stands. This rule is not superseded by any other rule.”

This broadens the ability to agree that a play stands, including in situations outside of fouls/violations, like injury stoppages.

Changes to Receiving and Offsetting Fouls Around Contact after the Block (17.2.1, 17.9.2)

17.2: “A Receiving Foul occurs when a player initiates non-minor contact with an opponent before, while, or directly after, either player makes a play on the disc.”

17.2.1: “Contact with an opponent’s arms or hands, that occurs after the disc has been caught, or after the opponent can no longer make a play on the disc, is not sufficient grounds for a foul, but should be avoided.”

17.9.2: “If there is non-minor contact that occurs as two or more opposing players move towards a single point simultaneously this must be treated as offsetting fouls. However if this occurs after the disc has been caught, or after the players involved can no longer make a play on the disc, this must be treated as an Indirect Foul.”

This language establishes more allowable contact (particularly on the arms and hands) after a play has been made. So, e.g., if a defender skies an offensive player and then hits the offensive player’s hand after catching the disc, it cannot be called a foul.

Increase the Space between the Thrower and Marker on Straddle and Wrapping Calls (18.1)

New language in bold

18.1.1.2: “‘Straddle’ – a line between a defensive player’s feet comes within one disc width of the thrower’s pivot point.”

18.1.14: “‘Wrapping’ – a line between a defensive player’s hands or arms comes within one disc width of the thrower’s torso, or any part of the defensive player’s body is above the thrower’s pivot point. However, if this situation is caused solely by movement of the thrower, it is not an infraction.”

These changes were made to align with USA Ultimate’s ruleset.

Travel Rule Change to Allow Give-and-Go Plays (18.2.2.1)

18.2.2: “After catching the disc, and landing in-bounds, the thrower must reduce speed as quickly as possible, without changing direction, until they have established a pivot point.”

18.2.2.1: “However if a player catches the disc while running or jumping the player may release a pass without attempting to stop and without establishing a pivot point, provided that: the player does not change direction or increase speed while in possession of the disc; and a maximum of two additional points of contact with the ground are made after possession has been established.”

These changes were made to align with USA Ultimate’s ruleset. Per Rueben Berg, the chair of WFDF Ultimate Rule Committee, “The main driver for this change was convergence with USAU. And the key issue was that was one area of rules difference where the difference actually had a meaningful affect on how the game was played, not just for an obscure scenario or on how a certain call was resolved. So if people played with the USAU rule, or watched and learned from players in USAU using give go moves, that was not necessarily a legal play in WFDF. We wanted to remove that type of difference, and after discussion with USAU, they had no major issue with, or intention of adjusting, their rule. So we changed ours.”

  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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