In recent years, the popularity of Australian Rules football has grown exponentially and the sport is now enjoyed by nations around the world. While not quite rivaling the popularity of traditional football (often known as soccer) or American football, Aussie Rules is still nonetheless now exported globally, with many TV stations finally starting to broadcast the sport.
However, if you’re new to the Australian version of football, the rules can often seem confusing. Aussie football is a high-contact, highly watchable sport but, it’s far more enjoyable if you have at least a basic grasp of the rules that govern the game. Read on for a beginner’s guide that will give you a better understanding of the sport and have you enjoying the game more.
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The Basics & Objective Of Aussie Rules
Australian Rules football is played on an oval pitch with two opposing teams consisting of 18 players. Australian Rules football pitches can be either natural or artificial football turf with a set of four goalposts spread at each end. Both teams aim to score points by kicking the ball between the middle posts (worth six points) or between one of the behind posts (worth one point). Also, teams can score a single point by carrying or forcing the ball over the score line.
A Summary Of Australian Football Rules
In comparison to other international forms of football, Australian football has relatively simple rules—though they can, at first, seem quite confusing:
- The game is overseen by an umpire and their decision is final.
- Australian football games last 80 minutes in total, split into four 20-minute quarters.
- The game starts (and restarts after a score) with a ruck. In a ruck, the umpire throws the ball between two players of the opposing teams, with each attempting to bat the ball back to their teammates.
- Passing between players is achieved by holding the ball in the palm of one hand and striking it with the butt of the other clenched hand. For traditional soccer fans, the terminology will no doubt be confusing, but passing is called handball—a very different meaning to the meaning of ‘handball’ in soccer. It is forbidden to throw or slap the ball to other teammates.
- A little like rugby football, when a player receives the ball, they can call a ‘mark.’ If a player marks the ball, they cannot be tackled. Marking can happen if a player successfully catches the ball in the air after it has traveled 15 meters. Once a mark has been called, the player can then make his next move without obstruction from the opposition. If the opposing team hinders the play or tackles the marked player, they will be deemed to have fouled, and the team with the mark will progress a further 15 meters up the field.
- Again, a little like rugby, players are allowed to tackle to try to get possession of the ball; however, tackling above the shoulder is deemed a foul. Also, if a tackled player fails to release the ball after a tackle, possession gets turned over.
- Pushing from the back is forbidden, particularly during a tackle or when running.
- So long as a player is within five meters of the ball carrier, bumping, pushing, or blocking opposing players is allowed in order to maintain possession of the ball.