Introduction to Aussie Rules
If you're planning on watching Australian Football, either on television or live, and you have no idea about the game, you're in for a hell of a lot of fun. See some video clips at the bottom of the page explaining some of the rules.
Australian Football, or Aussie Rules as it is also known, is often rated as one of the quickest sports in the world. For sustained running punctuated by frenetic one-on-one contests, high leaping and body-on-body contact, it is undoubtedly the best spectator sport in the world.
The first element of Australian Football to understand is that players can move the ball by hand or foot forwards, backwards or sideways. Players can run to any position on the ground as there is no offside rule.
Most teams, ideally, attempt to move the ball by kicking or handballing to teammates who have space. In 95 per cent of cases, the ball is moved in the direction of their goal.
This means that teammates of the player with the ball should be running to provide an option for him to kick or handball to. It also means that the quicker a player anticipates what is happening up the field, the more chance he has of creating space. Much of the time though, the football is in dispute and this is where some of the real excitement of Australian Football occurs.
Players need pace to outrun or evade opponents, a high leap to mark and possibly take a 'screamer' (a high mark where a player uses an opponent as a step to greater height and be the first to grab the football) and good strength to either break a tackle or bump an opponent to gain the ball.
A team is made up of 22 players, of which 18 are on the ground at any one time. The players play in positions all over the ground, but are generally matched up to a specific opponent.
When the ball bounces to start play, most players will be standing close to their opponents. Those in the forward line will be running around trying to create space between themselves and their opponents, while their opponents, in defence, will generally be trying to stay close to their men.
The game is divided into four quarters, with one quarter consisting of 20 minutes plus time-on. Time-on is the extra time allocated when play stops. The teams swap ends (kick in the other direction) at the end of each quarter.
The idea is to score more total points than the opposition. Total points is the combination of goals and points scored during a game.
Basics of the game
Players mainly kick drop punts for accuracy.
Holding the ball in the palm of one hand and punching it with the other hand.
Catching the ball after it has been kicked by another player without being touched in flight.
There are three field umpires, two boundary umpires and two goal umpires. The field umpires officiate according to the laws of the game. This means paying free kicks or marks. The crowd often disagrees with the umpires because of different interpretations of the laws. Fans' interpretations often depend on which team they barrack for.
Scored when the ball is kicked through the two tallest white posts (goalposts) by a player on the team kicking to that end, without the ball being touched by anyone. It is worth six points.
Scored when the ball goes between a goal post (the tall one) and a point post (the smaller post), or hits one of the goalposts or is 'rushed' (either comes off someone's hands before crossing the goal line or is kicked through the other team's goals to thwart a goal). It is worth one point.
Free kicks to watch for
Holding the man - holding your opponent when he hasn't got the ball.
- Around the neck - tackling an opponent over the shoulder.
- Holding the ball - if a player is tackled with the ball and he doesn't attempt to release it quickly. If he has had a prior opportunity to release it and is then tackled, he will have a free kick paid against him.
- Push in the back
- Throwing the ball
- Out on the full - kicking the ball over the boundary line without it touching the ground.
- Running too far - running more than 15 metres with the ball without bouncing or touching it on the ground.
That's it, in essence. Now settle in for a good game. It's a good game if: the scores are close (known as a tight game), some high marks are taken (catching the ball while standing on someone's shoulders is a high mark) and you don't notice the umpires.
It's a great game when your team wins!
Here are a few short videos to get you up to speed with Aussie Rules and how the game is played.
Written Article courtesy of Aussie Rules UK
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