[Home]Australian rules football

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Australian rules football (also known as "footy" or "Aussie Rules" in areas where it is the predominant winter sport) is a game played between two teams of 18 players, usually played on cricket ovals during the winter months. At either end of the oval four posts are erected. The aim for each team is to kick the ball between the either the two inner posts of one set (for a goal, worth six points) or the between an outer and inner post (for a behind, worth just one point). The game is played with a bouncy oval ball which may be caught, kicked, dribbled on the bounce (like a basketball) or passed to another player by punching. A player who cleanly catches a kicked ball (called a mark) that has travelled more than 10 metres is entitled to an unimpeded kick of the ball, to advance his team towards the goal post.

The game is a fast-paced combination of speed, athleticism, skill, and physical toughness. Players are allowed to tackle the player with the ball, and impede opposition players from tackling their teammates, but not to deliberately strike an opponent (though playing around at the margins of those rules is unsurprisingly a substantial part of the game). Like most team sports, tactics are based around trying to get the ball, through a combination of running with the ball, "handpassing" (punching the ball) and kicking, to a player who is within range of goal. Because taking a "mark" entitles the player to a free kick, a common tactic is to attempt to kick the ball "on the full" (without bouncing) to a teammate who is within kicking range of the team's goal. In this situation packs sometimes form, and spectacular "high marks" sometimes occur when players launch themselves off opponents' backs high in the air to "mark" the ball.

It was believed that "Aussie Rules", as the game is commonly known, was inspired by the ball games of the local Aboriginal people in central Victoria. However, whilst the Aboriginals did in fact play a type of sport useing a ball made out of Kangaroo Hide, there is no possible connection between the two. Rules were codified in the 1860's, and clubs formed joined the VFA. A schism in the 1890's led to the formation of the [Victorian Football League]?, a breakup from the original VFA competition. All of the original VFL clubs are still in existence, with the exception of Fitzroy who in 1996 merged with Brisbane due to financial difficulties.

The VFL changed its name in the late 1980's, as a strong interstate interest in the game was leading to a more national competition. In 1989, the Australian Football League (AFL)was born. The AFL is the elite-level competition in the game. There are many semi-professional and amateur leagues around Australia, which particularly in rural areas are often a very important local institution and source of community identity.

Australian Rules Football is played for recreation in several other countries, notably including Denmark and Great Britain, in the past mainly by expatriate Australians but to an increasing extent by natives of those countries.

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Last edited October 31, 2001 12:20 pm by 203.43.170.xxx (diff)