Australian Rules Football also known as “Aussie Rules” and “Footy” has as many, if not more rules than either baseball or American football. Yet, it is a remarkably easy sport to comprehend once you get down to the basics.
Australian Rules Football is a physical contact sport. It is a form of football with roots traceable from early forms of Rugby and Gaelic football but it is also uniquely Australian. Its rules were confided 1858, and probably predates all other modern forms of football, such as American, and Canadian football, and Rugby. Today it is a multi-million dollar business, with a National Competition and numerous smaller leagues.
Aussie Rules is the main code of football in Victoria Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and in the Australian Capital Territory. Footy runs a close second to rugby in the States of Queensland and New South Wales.
The Pitch (Field)
The filed is an oval between 135 and 185 meters in length and 110 and 155 meters in width. The boundary is marked with a white line drawn a few meters from the stands. The goals are two sets of posts erected at the far ends of the oval. The inner set of posts are the goal posts, 6.4 meters apart on the boundary line and 6 meters tall. Two Behind posts are set 6.4 meters from either goal post and must be at least 3 meters tall.
A goal square (it’s actually a rectangle) extends 9 meters into the ground from the goal posts and is 6.4 meters in width.
A radius is drawn on the oval 50 meters from each goal. This merely serves as a range finder: any AFL (Australian Football League) player should be able to kick a goal from this line and perhaps beyond.
The center circle is marked at the precise center of the oval, 3 meters in diameter, bisected by a lateral line extending 2 meters on either side of the diameter, and dividing the field in half. A center square is centered on this, 45 meters on each side. These markings control the conduct of the center bounces.
A ball kicked between the two larger goal posts without being touched is a goal and scored six points. The ball is then returned to the center circle for a “ball-up”, similar to a “jump-ball” in basketball. If the ball passes between the behind posts, or outside posts, by another means then it is a behind and it scores one point. If the ball hits the goal post, a behind is scored. This is regardless of where the ball goes after hitting the goal post. if the ball is forced, or carried, but not kicked over the scoring line anywhere between the goal posts a behind is scored. The ball is then kicked back into play from within the goal square usully by the opposing fullback.
The ball is an oval bladder covered with leather tanned for day use or colored a yellow for night matches. It is slightly larger that an American football, as it was not designed to be thrown. The ball is very smooth and it is not totally unlike trying to catch a wet watermelon when playing “footy” in the rain.
Players and Positions
A team consists of 18 players three substitutes are allowed on the bench. Players are deployed in five lines of three across the field. The different lines are as follows: Full Forwards, Half Forwards, Center Line, Halfbacks, and Fullbacks. The three assigned to the ball are referred to as “followers”. Their positions are referred to as; Ruckman, Ruck Rover, and Rover. All players, although they have set positions, are free to mover anywhere on the field.
A player handballs the ball by holding the ball in one hand and hitting with the clenched fist of the other hand and hitting with the clenched fist of the other hand, almost like a volleyball serve, only with more forward movement.
The Mark and The Free Kick
A “mark” is catching the ball directly from the kick of another player, no less than ten meters distance from each other. Once a player takes a mark, the player has the option to either “play on” by either making a “hand pass” to a teammate or by running with the ball, or the player can take a “free kick”. The player may kick the ball directly behind the spot where the mark was recorded. He has a ten meter protection area, where he cannot be touched by the opponent while taking the free kick. The free kick is often an excellent scoring opportunity for a ruck rover or full forward skillful enough to pull down a mark close to his opponents goal.