01 April 2006

Aussie Rules Football

I have occasionally mentioned Rugby League and Rugby Union, but rarely AFL, or Aussie Rules. This is mainly because the game has always appeared to be organized chaos. Their season began this weekend, and tonight I watched the Sydney Swans, reigning Premieres, lose to Essendon. Despite the loss, the game was exciting, because it finally clicked--no longer is it organized chaos. And it's a pretty interesting game, too. Rules can be found here, but here are the basics:
  1. Eighteen players on the oval per side.
  2. You may run with the ball, kick it to a teammate, or handpass it to a teammate (think underhand volleyball serve). Throwing or pitching the ball is not allowed, not even backwards. A kicked ball that is caught is called a mark, and is rewarded with a free kick. Outside of these free kicks, the ball is fair play for both teams at all times.
  3. At each end of the oval are four poles. The inner two are the goal posts, and the outer two are the behind posts. A kicked ball between the goal posts scores six, while a kicked ball between a behind post and goal post scores only one. A fifty metre arc cuts across the oval, marking this distance from the poles. If a kicked ball is caught inside this arc, a free kick is awarded to score a goal. You don't have to catch a kicked ball in order to attempt a goal, but it is your best chance since it is a free kick. The rules allow you to run inside the arc and kick a goal, but the kick will likely be contested, and is therefore more difficult to score.
That's basically it. Like any other sport, you have to see it to understand it, but I think this should give you an idea. AFL is more popular in Victoria (Rugby League is Sydney's game), but is catching on here after the Swans won the Premiership last year. I think AFL has something going for it that rugby lacks, and that is Big Play Potential. Rugby is a game I enjoy, but because it is a running game, there are very few big plays. Players rarely break a tackle for a big gain. American football, particularly college ball, has a high Big Play Potential because of the passing game, turnovers, and big hits on defense. AFL has similar Big Play Potential because the ball is constantly in the air, with players on both sides flying into each other to catch it. Heather and I said we would watch footy (generic term for all versions of football) this year and perhaps next year get a membership (season tickets) for our favorite. It's still early in the season, but the Swans are in the running.

No comments: