What’s Different About the Australian Game of Football

Historically, it was the first type of football played in Australia. Some believe its origins are seen in games played by our indigenous brothers. Although it developed initially in Victoria, it spread to all the Australian colonies during the second half of the 1800s.

The purpose of this article is to list what is different about “Aussie Rules”. These are the differences that set it apart from other football codes.

• There are 18 players in each team, making it the game with the most players on the field at a time-36 in all. It can be played at 9 a side; 14 a side; 15 a side and 16 a side. The smaller numbers are usual for under age teams.

• The field is in the shape of an ellipse (oval); up to 160 metres long and 120 metres across the centre. Junior teams play on much smaller oval.

• There is no offside.

• There are no knock-ons.

• There are players from both sides spread all over the field, usually in pairs, with one from each team.

• The game is a 360 degree game. That means players are all around you in contrast to the rugby games and American Football where teams face each other.

• The players may wear sleeveless jerseys with no padding.

• Kicking long distances and high marking are features of the game.

• The game at senior level is played over four quarters of 20 minutes actual playing time. This means the players are actually on the ground for over two hours, making it the longest game by far of the football codes.

• The scoring scheme involves kicking the ball between posts at either end of the field. There are four posts set up seven metres apart. To score a goal, (worth 6 points), the ball must be kicked through the middle posts without being touch by another player. Otherwise the score is one point. If it hits the inside posts or goes through between the outside posts it is also worth one point.

• The game at senior level is controlled by three field umpires positioned around the oval assisted by four boundary umpires (whose role is to determine when the ball is out of play and to throw it in at the field umpire’s command) and two goal umpires. One field umpire, two boundary umpires and two goal umpires would officiate at other levels of the game, normally.

• There is no send-off rule but players may be reported for serious offences such as striking.

• Players can be awarded free kicks for rule infringements or a mark (catching a ball from a 15 plus metre kick). This means that the opposition player stands on the mark indicated by the umpire allowing the player with the free kick the chance to kick or handball the ball without interference.

• Tackling is a part of the game. A player must be in possession of the ball before he can be tackled. He must be tackled according to the rules. Otherwise a free kick is awarded.

• Players may shepherd to protect the ball carrier.

• The game contains lots of running and kicking by all players.

These are the factors that make our Australian game unique and very different. It confounds fans of the rugby games and Soccer (Football, to most parts of the world) and the followers of American Football when they first see. But what they see ‘live’ is the fastest and most difficult game of football in the world.

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