Australian football (Australian rules football, Aussie rules)
Australian Football is said to be the most popular sport in Australia and the Australian Football League (AFL) is the biggest competition, which is professional. The AFL Grand Final is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground every year, attracting the large crowd. The AFL Grand Final is the highest attended club championship in the world. The largest attendance record of the AFL Grand Final is 121,696 when the game between Collingwood and Carlton was played in 1970.
The Football game was held in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, which was influenced by the English school game. The modification of rules was made after the event and Melbourne Football Club announced the first laws of Australian football in 1859, which is said to be the first written code among the modern football games presently flourishing in the world.
The Australasian Football Council was formed in 1890. The IAFC (International Australian Football Council) was established in 1995 as the global governing body and organised events such as The Australian Football International Cup. It functioned until 2002. Later the organisation name was changed to the Aussie Rules International and operates only for development and promotion purposes. The AFL (Australian Football League) governs Australian football globally today.
1 game (80 minutes) consists of 4 quarters of 20 minutes respectively. A game starts with a bounce of the oval ball. Kicking the ball between the goal posts is 6 points. It is worth 1 point if the ball goes wide through the lower posts, which is call the behind.
Players can move the ball by kicking, handballing and running in hands. The handballing has to be done in certain way, using a knuckle to hit the ball. A player running with the ball needs to bounce the ball every 6 yards. players are not allowed to hold the ball when get caught. A player can get the ball possession by calling “mark” while catching the ball directly from the kick under the certain condition. Australian football doesn’t use any offside rule.
The field of Australian football is oval-shaped, where cricket can also be played. The field size of the Australian football is 135m to 185m long and 110m to 155m wide in general.
1 team consists of 18 players. Positions are more fluid than some other football codes like American football.
Positions of Australian football:
FW: 6 players.
Forward pocket (FP, Second full forward), Full-forward (FF), Forward pocket (FP, Second full forward).
Half-forward flank (HF), Centre half-forward (CF), Half-forward flank (HF).
MF: 6 players.
Wing, Centre, Ruck, Ruck-rover (RR), Rover, Wing.
DF: 6 players.
Half-back flank (HB), Centre half-back (CB), Half-back flank (HB).
Back pocket (BP), Full-back (FB), Back pocket (BP).
Special roles: Tagger, Spare man in defence.
Australian football (Aussie rules) variants
Australian football played in shorter time is called the Lightning football. The game duration is a half of the full game in general. The rest of rules are the same or only minorly modified. Lightning football tends to be played in grassroots and youth activities. The shorter game time is convenient for 1 day tournaments because 1 team can play many games in 1 day or 2. There are competitions called “Lightning Premiership” and “Lightning carnival”.
The Nine-a-side footy is based on the Australian football and played with 9 players instead of 18. It makes easier to form teams and organise competitions by reducing the team size into the half of the full Australian football. Nine-a-side footy is often played in smaller fields and rectangular fields available.
Positions are 3 forwards, 3 centres and 3 backs in general. There are different rule modifications depending on the competitions. In AFL 9s, physical contact is banned and the ball can be bounced only once before releasing it. In addition, the ball is kicked back into play by the opponent when it goes out of play. The competitions of Nine-a-side footy include the EU Cup and the Bali Nines.
Rec footy (Recreational football, Recreational footy)
The AFL (Australian Football League) organises the Rec footy that is suitable for recreation participated by all the ages and the genders. Rules are changed such as banning physical contacts. A female player can score 9 points by a goal kick while male can score 6 points. The mark has no minimum distance. Instead of 50 metre penalty, it’s 15 metre penalty. Players wear bibs to distinguish positions, and players can move only within their respective zones.
1 team consists of 8 players. Positions of Rec footy are 3 forwards, 2 centres and 3 backs in general. For the mixed game, at least 1 female should be in each of 3 positions. Each mixed team has to have at least 3 female players. Number of substitutions allowed is unlimited.
1 game is made up of 2 halves of 20 minutes. The field of Rec footy is rectangular-shaped and 100m long x 50m wide max.
Based on the Australian football but played by 15-a-side instead of 18 and on the Rugby union field, which is rectangular-shaped. The movement of players is restricted to zones. Forwards can play only in the attacking half and backs can play only in defensive half. The bounce is allowed only once before removing it. These rule changes make the game end-to-end kicking style. The Vailima Six-Shooters’ Championship started in 1998.
Metro footy (Metro rules footy)
Since Australian football requires many people and large space, Metro footy was devised in the USA to play it with smaller number of players on the rectangular fields such as of American football, Association football and Rugby football. The rules vary in different leagues. Number of players may be 9 and game duration may be 4 quarters of 15 minutes. All other rules are the same as the standard rules of the Australian football.
The AFL (Australian Football League) formed the preseason contest called the AFLX, which is the seven-a-side game based on the Australian football. The AFL had the first AFLX in 2018. The AFLX is the purpose built for promoting the Australian football globally.
Major differences are made to the rules as follows. AFLX is played in rectangular field like Association football. 1 game consists 2 halves of 10 minutes. 1 team has 7 players. The team that made the last touch the ball before going out of play loses the ball possession. 10-point super goal can be scored by the goal kick from outside of the 40m arc.
AFL Masters (Masters Australian football, Superules)
The special rules arranged to be more suitable for the players over 30’s is called the Masters Australian football. The major rule change is the reduction of physical impacts to make the game safer. The Masters Australian football was established in 1980 in Nhill, Victoria and started in 1981. The AFLM (AFL Masters) is the National Carnival going around in Australia.
Touch Aussie rules
The essential skillsets for Touch Aussie rules are bouncing, handballing, kicking and marking, which are the same as the standard Australian football. The Touch Aussie rules is based on Australian football, and the major difference is tackling replaced with touching. It makes the game accessible for all kinds of abilities and genders.
Auskick (Vickick, Kiwikick, Footywild)
It was originally called the Vickick after the birthplace, the state of Victoria. The Auskick is Australia’s nationwide programme operating around year to help children learn and practice Australian football.
The sessions include trainings and games, and are usually held at weekends. The rules are modified to help protect minors and facilitate their growth. The examples of major differences are the prohibition of tackling and restriction of the players’ field zones. The adults can learn about Australian football and the coaching as well. The Auskick works closely with local communities and the board involves parents, coaches, first aid officers, administrators and volunteers.
The traditional kick and catch game of the Australian football is called the Kick-to-kick. 2 players kick the ball and catch it, which is the mark. The ball may bounce before catching it. The kicker can use different types of kicks, for example, the checkside punt, drop punt and torpedo punt (spiral, barrel, screw punt). The Kick-to-kick can be played with more people by dividing into the 2 teams. The group Kick-to-kick can be similar to the Force back of Rugby football. The Kick-to-kick variants include the End-to-end footy and the Marks up.
Kick-to-kick is often played in warming ups and informal plays in the public parks. Australian football had the long tradition of the Kick-to-kick taking place by the invading audiences immediately after the conclusion of the game. But this custom ceased at the grounds of the Australian Football League since the game turned professional and the event management became more structural. Some say the Kick-to-kick originates in the Marn Grook, the ancient Aboriginal sport, and some say it is from the British tradition.
The distance of the punt kick is contested in the Longest-kick competition. Players kick the ball as far as possible by turns. The Australian football players at the highest level can kick the ball more than 60 metres away.
The Handpassing accuracy is contested in the Handball competition. Each of concentric bands of the target has different points and the centre gives the highest points among just like archery. Handball competition is usually held at the club events and Auskick.
The Universal football is the game combining the Australian football and the Rugby league proposed in early 1900’s.
This is the compromised game of Australian rules football and American football invented while military personnel from United States stationed in Australia during the World War Two.
International rules football
The International rules football is the hybrid sport invented in order to make the international games playable between the Australian football team and the Gaelic Football team. The Australia national team is organised by the AFL (Australian Football League) while the Ireland national team is selected by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association).
The first international rules match was held in Ireland during the Australian Football World Tour in 1967. The game has various categories such as Men, Women, Juniors, Masters and Amateurs. International rules football games are attracting global audiences.
1 game consists of 4 quarters of 18 minutes respectively. 1 team is made up of 15 players. Players are allowed to grab between the shoulders and thighs and take down to the field. This way of tackling is prohibited in Gaelic Football.
The international rules use the round shaped ball and the rectangular field of the size 160yd x 98yd approximately, which are from the Gaelic Football.
2 taller posts are 6.5m apart and have the crossbar at the height of 2.5m. The goal net is used. These are the same as the Gaelic Football. A shorter post on further 6.5m to the side of each goal post is in place. These 2 shorter posts are the behind posts from the Australian football.
How to count the points of the International rules football:
A goal: Under the crossbar into the goal net: 6 points.
An over: Over the crossbar and between the 2 taller posts: 3 points.
A behind: Between the taller and shorter posts at either side: 1 point.
Author: Takuya Nagata
Once played soccer for one of the biggest football clubs in Japan. Retired at young and voyaged alone to England and graduated from the UK’s university. Established careers as football journalist, football coach, football consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Played rugby union since moving to the UK and investigated various codes of football. Knowledgeable in creative and online industries as well. The founder of “Propulsive Football (PROBALL)“, the world’s first ever competitive mixed football facilitating diversity and spirits for equal participation of the society. The founder of Tact Nexus Group.
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