Australian Rules Football Explained

It’s been called many things over the years – Australian Football, Aussie Rules, footy. Australian Rules Football (AFL) is a game that’s unique to the continent and has been played there for the last 150 years.

Today, AFL is starting to spread across the world and countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas now play at a local and national level. There are 15 international governing bodies for the sport, and they all take part in the International Cup tournament. The sport is also hugely popular, and all the Aussie and New Zealand online betting sites offer odds on almost every game.

So, let’s look at how this sport is played:

The Basics Of AFL

The game is something of a combination between standard football or soccer and rugby. Here are the basics:

  • Field size – AFL is played on a massive field, which equates to about two regular football fields next to each other. The field has an ovoid shape with a boundary line to denote the area of play. Within this, you get the center circle, the center square and the goal squares on either end.
  • Team size – Teams are made up of 18 players on the field and four reserves on the bench. These reserves can be substituted on at any time for tactical reasons or to replace injured players
  • Playing time – The game runs at 80 minutes in total but is broken up into four periods of play of 20 minutes each. Each quarter is started by the umpire, who bounces the ball in center circle to put it into play.
  • Scoring – Players can score goals for six points or behinds for one point. A goal is when the ball is kicked between the goal posts and doesn’t touch another player or the posts first. A behind is awarded if the ball touches the posts on its way through, or if it touches a player after it’s been kicked.
  • The Officials – There are nine officials in an AFL match. Three central umpires are on field during the run of play and four boundary umpires roam the edges of the field. The remaining two umpires are situated on either end of the field at the goals and are called the goal umpires.
  • The Ball – The AFL ball must be a symmetrical oval shape. It’s similar to a rugby ball, but is generally more rounded on the ends.
  • General Play – The aim is to get the ball to your goal posts and score. This can be done by kicking the ball down field or running with it. When running with the ball, the player must bounce it every 15 meters otherwise they’ll be penalized. Another option is to punch the ball rather than throwing it, which is called a handball.

A Brief History Of Aussie Rules

Aussie Rules came into being in 1858 when Tom Wills and his cricket team invented a rugby-like game to play in the winter to keep fit. A year later, the rules were written down and codified into an official game.

Other influences on the early game include Gaelic Football and Marngrook, a traditional game played by indigenous Australians.