Australian Rules Football – What is it Exactly?

The term football refers to different sports in different parts of the world.

While football in Europe refers to European football (soccer), it can mean a completely different team sport in the USA or in Australia for instance.

The most common sports around the world which are referred to simply as football are as follows – Soccer, American football, Australian Rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football and Rugby (both Rugby League Football and Rugby Union Football).

While Rugby, American football, Australian Football, and Canadian football are similar, European football or soccer is very distinctively different.

A Simple Guide To Australian Rules Football

In this article, we will take a closer look at the nuances of Australian Rules football specifically and see how exactly it differs from other well-known forms of Football across the world.

The Basics

Australian Rules football is a full contact team sport which in Australia is usually known simply as football or footy. The game involves two teams playing against each other, with nine men of each team on the field.

To win, a team must simply have more points than its opposing team at the end of four quarters. Each quarter lasts approximately 30 minutes, but this may vary depending on factors such as injuries and other unforeseen events. There are also two six-minute breaks – one after the first quarter and the other after the third quarter. All in all, you can expect a full game on Australian Rules football to last for about two hours and thirty minutes.

So how do teams accumulate points while the game is in progress? The most fundamental way to gather points is by scoring goals. A goal is when the football is kicked in between the two tall goal posts that are positioned about 6.4 meters apart from each other. One such goal is worth 6 points.

Players on either team may pretty much handle the ball using any part of the body. Both teams are going to vie for possession as the team without the ball is allowed to make tackles using their entire bodies or just their hands. However, certain tackles are considered dangerous and are hence disallowed, for instance, a player may not push an opponent in the back. Fouls are penalized with free kicks and penalties depending on where the foul happened and the severity of it. Some fouls may even result in the player being suspended for a number of games.

At its best, Australian rules football is a high energy, action packed team sport where some of the most physically fit and strong athletes go up against each other at incredible pace, tact and often – brute power!

AFL

 

The Roots

Melbourne Football Club vs Geelong Football Club, Australian Rules Football Match 1881
Melbourne vs Geelong, 1881

It was in 1858 that the Melbourne Football Club drafted and published what would be the first ever set of rules defining the game of Australian Rules football.

The inspiration came from Football games that were being played in English public schools.

The Melbourne Football Club then decided that the game needed to be amended and made more suitable for the Australian weather conditions and to suit Australian adults better and thus began the evolution of Australian rules football as we know it today.

Considering that it formally came into existence in the late fifties, Australian Rules football is therefore one of the oldest football codes anywhere in the world.
 

Growth and Popularity of the Sport

Over the years, this team sport gained substantial traction as one of Australia’s most loved sports and as of today, it draws in more television views and actual fan attendance in stadiums that any other sport in the country. Therefore, it would be safe to say that this is Australia’s favorite sport!

Furthermore, the governing body that runs the AFL (Australian Football League) is the richest sporting body in the country. In fact, the popularity of the game is now spreading past the Australian borders as some countries have started playing it at different levels with different tweaks and variations.

Australian Rules Football vs. American Football

Australian Rules Football vs. American FootballTo a fan of either sport, this question may seem rather ridiculous and obvious. However, to the untrained eye, there may not seem to be any apparent differences as such apart from the fact that the players in American football are wearing protective gear while players of Australian Rules Football are wearing nothing but mere clothing and football shoes.

However, there are plenty of other differences apart from just protective gear. In fact, they are two different sports altogether. For starters, Australian football is freer flowing with lesser interruptions where players are constantly trying to move the ball within range of being able to kick it in between the goal posts. On the other hand, American football is usually comprised of trying to move the ball down the field in different stages known as set plays. The players then try to cross a line and score what is known as a touch down.

Each team can have 18 players on the field in Australian football whereas in American football, each team is only permitted to have 11 players on the field at any given time.

American football resembles rugby to a certain extent even though both sports are different, but Australian football is a lot different from either and there really isn’t any other football code which is similar in comparison to Australian football.

If Australian football sounds like something you may be interested in, then you should definitely check out the Australian Football League games. They are fast paced, intense, and will certainly not leave you disappointed.

Australian Rules Football Teams

Australian Football LeagueThere are 18 coveted teams which take part in this highly competitive league, and the season lasts usually from March till September.

The defending champions at the moment is a team known as Richmond Football Club. This team is from inner suburb od Melbourne and have eleven premiership titles to their name.  

Here is a brief of some of the tops teams in the AFL.

Western Bulldogs

Established in 1877, the Western Bulldogs, formerly known as Footscray Football Club, is among the Australian Rules football clubs in the Australian Football League (AFL). Between 1898 and 1924, the club won 9 Victorian Football Association (VFA) premierships.

Adelaide Crows Football Club

Among the later entrants into the professional Australian Football League is the Adelaide Football Club, also known as the Crows. The professional Aussie Rules club, based in Adelaide, was established in 1990 and is based at Football Park in West Lakes.

Brisbane Lions Football Club

One of the newest Aussie Rules clubs to build a reputation for themselves in the AFL is the Brisbane Lions Football Club. Founded in 1996, the club was the result of the merger of the Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears, which brought together a VFL club and a non-Victorian side.

GWS Giants

The Greater Western Sydney Football Club is the newest team in the Australian Football League. Nicknamed the ‘Giants’, the club is based at Blacktown International Sportspark, and represents the Greater Western Sydney area. The Giants home ground is Skoda Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park. A reserve team participates in the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL), and is known as the UWC Giants.

Geelong Football Club

The Geelong Football Club, also known as The Cats, is the second oldest club in the AFL and undoubtedly one of the oldest clubs worldwide. The professional Australian Rules football outfit is based in Geelong and has the distinction of winning 9 VFL/AF premiers. It also shares the record of nine McClelland Trophies with Essendon. The club was formed in 1859 and also fields a separate team for in the VFL or Victoria Football League.

Hawthorn Hawks AFL Football Club

Hawthorn Football Club and its team that plays in Brown & Gold vertically striped Guernseys is among the oldest Australian Rules football clubs with 10 premiership titles to their credit. The club came close to winning its 11th title in 2012. Nicknamed the ‘Hawks’, the club was founded in 1902 by Alf Kosky, who brought together various district clubs to form Hawthorn Football Club with the purpose of competing in the Metropolitan Junior Football Association.

West Coast Eagles

The West Coast Eagles is one of the youngest clubs in the AFL. Based in Perth, the Aussie Rules football club is one of two clubs based in Western Australia, the other being Freemantle Football Club. The Eagles was established in 1986 and made their way to the finals in 1988. They won three premierships in 1992, 1994, and 2006 and is among the wealthiest clubs with a large fan base in the AFL.

Melbourne Football Club

The Melbourne Football Club is among the oldest Australian Rules club in the Australian Football League (AFL). Based in Melbourne, Victoria, The Demons or The Dees, as they are known, was founded in 1859 and was a founding member of the Victorian Football Association (VFA) in 1877. Later in 1897 it became a founding member of the Victorian Football (VFL), which is now the AFL. The Dees celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2008. With 12 premiership titles and 5 runners up titles, the club is proud of its ‘150 heroes’ who took the club to glorious heights over one and a half centuries.

St. Kilda Football Club

St. Kilda Football Club is one of the top Australian Rules football clubs in the AFL with its base in Melbourne. Nicknamed The Saints, the club was established in 1873 in the suburbs of Melbourne and was a founding member of the VFA or Victorian Football Association. It later switched over to the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, which is currently the AFL or Australian Football League since 1990. The Saints may not have many premiership titles to their credit – in fact, the only one came in the 1966 VFL Grand Final – but have a number of other achievements that has made them get rid of their reputation as persistent underachievers.

Port Adelaide Football Club

Based in Alberton, South Australia, the Port Adelaide Football Club is among the oldest Australian Rules football club and a strong contender in the AFL and the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) as well. They are known as the ‘Power’ in the AFL and as the Magpies in the SANFL. Founded in 1870, the club has 36 SANFL titles to its credit between 1884 and 1999 and one AFL title in 2004. They have also won the Champions of Australia on four occasions.

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