Australian rules football

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Australian football
Stoppage in an AFL game.jpg
A ball-up in a game between Essendon and Hawthorn during the 2007 AFL season
Highest governing body AFL Commission
Nicknames Football, footy, Aussie rules
First played Codified in May 1859 in Melbourne, Victoria.
Registered players 1,247,610 (2015)[1]
Clubs 13,873[1]
Characteristics
Contact Full contact
Team members 22 (18 onfield)
Mixed gender Single (at senior level)
Type Outdoor
Equipment Football
Presence
Olympic Demonstration sport, 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football,[2] but also called Aussie rules, football or footy[3] (and in some regions marketed as AFL after the Australian Football League),[4] is a sport played between two teams of eighteen players on the field of either an Australian football ground, a modified cricket field, or a similarly sized sports venue. The main way to score points is by kicking the ball between the two tall goal posts. The team with the higher total score at the end of the match wins[5] unless a draw is declared.[6]

During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods are kicking, handballing and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch a ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded possession.[7] Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid.

Australian football is a contact sport in which players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. Frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring are the game's main attributes.

The game's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne in 1858. Australian football became codified in May 1859 when the first laws were published by the Melbourne Football Club.[8][9]

Australian football has the highest spectator attendance of all sports in Australia.[10][11] The sport is also played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations.

The pre-eminent competition is the Australian Football League (AFL), culminating in the annual AFL Grand Final, currently the highest attended club championship event in the world. The rules of Australian football are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

Statue next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the approximate site of the 1858 "foot-ball" match between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College. Tom Wills is depicted umpiring behind two young players contesting the ball. The plaque reads that Wills "did more than any other person – as a footballer and umpire, co-writer of the rules and promoter of the game – to develop Australian football during its first decade."[12]

There is documented evidence of "foot-ball" being played sporadically in the Australian colonies in the first half of the 19th century. While the exact rules of these games are unknown, they were most likely forms of folk football, and share no causal link with Australian rules football.

In 1858, public schools in Melbourne, Victoria, are first recorded organising football games modelled on precedents at English schools.[13] The earliest recorded match, held on 15 June of that year, was between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College on the St Kilda foreshore.[14][15]

On 10 July 1858, the Melbourne-based Bell's Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle published a letter by Tom Wills, captain of the Victoria cricket team, calling for the formation of a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter.[16] Born in Australia, Wills learnt a nascent form of rugby football whilst a pupil at Rugby School in England, and returned to his homeland a star athlete and cricketer. His letter is regarded by many historians as giving impetus for the development of a new code of football today known as Australian football.[17]

Two weeks after Wills' letter, his friend, cricketer Jerry Bryant, posted an advertisement for a scratch match at the Richmond Paddock adjoining the Melbourne Cricket Ground.[18] This was the first of several "kickabouts" held that year involving members of the Melbourne Cricket Club, including Wills, Bryant, W. J. Hammersley and J. B. Thompson. Trees were used as goalposts and play typically lasted an entire afternoon. Without an agreed upon code of laws, some players were guided by rules they had learned in the British Isles, "others by no rules at all".[19]

Another significant milestone in the sport's development was a match played under experimental rules between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, held at the Richmond Paddock. This 40-a-side contest, umpired by Wills and Scotch College teacher John Macadam, began on 7 August and continued over two subsequent Saturdays, ending in a draw with each side kicking one goal.[20] It is commemorated with a statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and the two schools have competed annually ever since in the Cordner-Eggleston Cup, the world's oldest continuous football competition.[21]

The theory that Australian football was derived from Gaelic football emerged in the early 20th century, despite the fact that Australian football was codified almost 30 years before the Irish game.[22] There is no archival evidence in favour of a Gaelic origin, and the style of play shared between the two modern codes was evident in Australia long before the Irish game evolved in a similar direction.[23][24] Since the 1980s, the theory that Australian football comes from the Aboriginal game of Marn Grook has also gained attention.[25] It is claimed that Wills, growing up amongst Aborigines in Victoria, may have seen or played Marn Grook, and used elements from the game when formulating the laws of Australian football. This is purely speculative, and according to biographer Greg de Moore's research, Wills was "almost solely influenced by his experience at Rugby School".[26]

First rules[edit]

A loosely organised Melbourne side, captained by Wills, played against other football enthusiasts in the winter and spring of 1858.[27] The following year, on 14 May, the Melbourne Football Club officially came into being, making it one of the world's oldest football clubs. Three days after its formation, Wills, Hammersley, Thompson and teacher Thomas H. Smith met at the Parade Hotel in East Melbourne, owned by Bryant, and drafted ten simple rules: "The Rules of the Melbourne Football Club". These are the laws from which Australian rules football evolved.[28] The document was signed by the rule-framers and three other club office bearers: Alex Bruce, T. Butterworth and J. Sewell.[29] The rules were distributed throughout the colony; Thompson in particular did much to promote the new code in his capacity as a journalist.[30] Australian football's date of codification predates that of any other major football code, including soccer (codified in 1863) and rugby union (codified in 1871).

Early competition in Victoria[edit]

Engraving of a football match at the Richmond Paddock (Yarra Park), 1860s. A pavilion at the MCG is on the left in the background.

Following in Melbourne's footsteps, Castlemaine, Melbourne University and Geelong also formed football clubs in 1859. While many early teams from Melbourne and provincial Victoria participated in one-off matches, most had not yet formed clubs for regular competition.

The first Australian rules football trophy, the 1861 Challenge Cup, was won in 1862 under Melbourne's rules by University over Melbourne. The competition continued into the 1860s with the addition of other teams from Melbourne's suburbs. Two further competitions, the South Yarra Challenge Cup (which had evolved from the Caledonian Games) and "Second Twenties" were held in the 1860s and 1870s.

With input from other clubs, the Melbourne rules underwent several minor revisions in the early 1860s, thus establishing a uniform code known as "Victorian rules".[31] In 1866, the "first distinctively Victorian rule", the running bounce, was formalised at a meeting of club delegates chaired by H. C. A. Harrison,[32] an influential pioneer who started playing in 1859 at the invitation of Wills, his cousin.[33] Behind posts, introduced at this time, are believed to have come from Geelong. In 1869, a 100-minute time limit was used for the first time. Previous to this, winners were decided in a number of ways, but most commonly the first side to kick two goals.

The relationship with cricket primarily came out of co-existence and many of football's founders were cricketers. As a result, the sport shares some terminology (i.e. "umpires" and "boundary"). However cricket authorities did not initially allow football on their grounds and in the early years football was played primarily in parks. While football was allowed on the MCG as early as 1859, it was not regularly played there until the late 1870s when cricket authorities saw an opportunity to capitalise on the rapid growth of Australian football, and soon most grounds in Victoria expanded to accommodate the dual purpose—a situation that continues to this day.

Football matches between 1859 and 1899 were played in a 20-per-side format.

Spread to other colonies[edit]

Engraving of the first intercolonial football match between Victoria and South Australia at the East Melbourne Cricket Ground, 1879

As "Victorian rules" gained roots in other Australasian colonies—beginning with South Australia (1860), Tasmania (1864), Queensland (1866), and New Zealand (1871)—it came to be known as "Australian rules" or "Australasian rules". In 1877, the sport's first governing bodies, the South Australian Football Association (SAFA) and the Victorian Football Association (VFA), formed on 30 April and 17 May respectively. The game was introduced to New South Wales in 1877 and Western Australia in 1881, where it took hold during the colony's gold rushes.

By the 1880s, Australian football had become the prevailing football code in Australia's southern and western colonies, and experienced a period of dominance in Queensland,[34] where, like in areas of New South Wales, it struggled to thrive, largely due to the spread of rugby football, regional rivalries and the lack of strong local governing bodies. In the case of Sydney, denial of access to grounds, the influence of university headmasters from Britain who favoured rugby, and the loss of players to other codes inhibited the game's growth.

In 1879, the first intercolonial match took place in Melbourne between Victoria and South Australia, and clubs began touring the colonies. By this stage, the sport had become the first code of football to develop mass spectator appeal, with important matches drawing world record attendances for sports viewing.[35] New rules such as holding the ball led to a "golden era" of fast, long-kicking and high-marking football in the 1880s, a time which also saw the rise of professionalism, particularly in Western Australia and Victoria, and players such as George Coulthard achieve superstardom.[36] Australian football was now widely referred to as "the people's game".[36]

Emergence of the VFL[edit]

In 1896, delegates from the strongest and wealthiest VFA clubs—Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne, St Kilda and South Melbourne—met to form a breakaway professional competition and in 1897, the Victorian Football League (VFL) was born. The VFL's popularity grew rapidly and by 1925, with the addition of Hawthorn, Footscray and North Melbourne, had become the most prominent league in the country and would dominate many aspects of the sport.

Effects of the two world wars[edit]

Australia's first recruitment poster, published in 1915, questions the public's commitment to Australian football, rather than the war.

Both World War I and World War II had a devastating effect on Australian football and on Australian sport in general. While scratch matches were played by Australian "diggers" in remote locations around the world, the game lost many of its great players to wartime service. Some clubs and competitions never fully recovered. Between 1914 and 1915, a proposed hybrid code of Australian football and rugby league, the predominant code of football in New South Wales and Queensland, was trialed without success.[37][38] World War I saw the game in New Zealand go into recess for three quarters of a century. In Queensland, the state league went into recess for the duration of the war. VFL club University left the league and went into recess due to severe casualties. The WAFL lost two clubs and the SANFL was suspended for one year in 1916 due to heavy club losses. The ANZAC Day clash is one example of how the war continues to be remembered in the football community.

Interstate football and the Australian National Football Council[edit]

New South Wales vs. Queensland in the 1933 Australian Football Carnival at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Australian National Football Council's primary role was to govern the game at national level to facilitate interstate representative and club competition.

The ANFC ran the Championship of Australia, the first national club competition, which commenced in 1888 and saw clubs from different states compete on an even playing field. During this time, the Port Adelaide won a record four national club championships. Although clubs from other states were at times invited, the final was almost always between the premiers from the two strongest state competitions of the time—South Australia and Victoria—and the majority of matches were played in Adelaide at the request of the SAFA/SAFL. The last match was played in 1976, with North Adelaide being the last non-Victorian winner in 1972. Between 1976 and 1987, the ANFC, and later the Australian Football Championships (AFC) ran a night series, which invited clubs and representative sides from around the country to participate in a knock-out tournament parallel to the premiership seasons, which Victorian sides still dominated.

With the lack of international competition, state representative matches were regarded with great importance. The Australian Football Council co-ordinated regular interstate carnivals, including the Australasian Football Jubilee, held in Melbourne in 1908 to celebrate the game's bicentenary.[39] Due in part to the VFL poaching talent from other states, Victoria dominated interstate matches for three quarters of a century. State of Origin rules, introduced in 1977, stipulated that rather than representing the state of their adopted club, players would return to play for the state they were first recruited in. This instantly broke Victoria's stranglehold over state titles and Western Australia and South Australia began to win more of their games against Victoria. Both New South Wales and Tasmania scored surprise victories at home against Victoria in 1990.

Towards a national competition[edit]

The West Coast Eagles and Sydney Swans line up for the national anthem at the 2005 AFL Grand Final. Traditionally held at the MCG, the Grand Final is the highest attended club championship event in the world.

The term "Barassi Line", named after VFL star Ron Barassi, was coined by scholar Ian Turner in 1978 to describe the "fictitious geographical barrier" in Australia's footballing landscape, separating large parts of New South Wales and Queensland which predominately followed rugby from the rest of the country, where Australian football reigned.[40] This description prompted the first suggestions of regular interstate club competition and of establishing a national Australian football league.[41]

By 1971, the way the game was played had changed dramatically due to innovative coaching tactics, with the phasing out of many of the game's kicking styles and the increasing use of handball; while presentation was influenced by television.[42]

In 1982, in a move that heralded big changes within the sport, one of the original VFL clubs and now struggling, South Melbourne, relocated to Sydney and became known as the Sydney Swans. In the late 1980s, due to the poor financial standing of many of the Victorian clubs, the VFL pursued a more national competition. Two more non-Victorian clubs, West Coast and Brisbane, began playing in 1987. In their early years, the Sydney and Brisbane clubs struggled both on and off-field because the substantial TV revenues they generated by playing on a Sunday went to the VFL. To protect these revenues the VFL granted significant draft concessions and financial aid to keep them competitive. Each club was required to pay a licence fee which allowed the Victorian-based clubs to survive.

The VFL changed its name to the Australian Football League (AFL) for the 1990 season, and over the next decade, three non-Victorian clubs gained entry: Adelaide (1991), Fremantle (1995) and the SANFL's Port Adelaide (1997), the only pre-existing club outside Victoria to join the league. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, two new non-Victorian clubs were added to the competition: Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney. The AFL, currently with 18 member clubs, is the sport's elite competition and most powerful body.

Following the emergence of the AFL, state leagues were quickly relegated to a second-tier status. The VFA merged with the former VFL reserves competition in 1998, adopting the VFL name. State of Origin also declined in importance, especially after an increasing number of player withdrawals. The AFL turned its focus to the annual International Rules Series against Ireland in 1998 before abolishing State of Origin the following year. State and territorial leagues still contest interstate matches.

Although a Tasmanian AFL Bid is ongoing, the AFL's focus has been on expanding into markets outside Australian football's traditional heartlands. The AFL regularly schedules pre-season exhibition matches in all Australian states and territories as part of the Regional Challenge. The AFL signaled further attempts at expansion in the 2010s by hosting home-and-away matches in New Zealand, followed by China.

Laws of the game[edit]

Field[edit]

Both the ball and the field of play are oval in shape. No more than 18 players of each team are permitted to be on the field at any time.

Up to three interchange (reserve) players may be swapped for those on the field at any time during the game. In Australian rules terminology, these players wait for substitution "on the bench"—an area with a row of seats on the sideline. Players must interchange through a designated interchange "gate" with strict penalties for too many players from one team on the field. In addition, some leagues like the AFL have each team designate one player as a substitute who can be used to make a single permanent exchange of players during a game.

There is no offside rule nor are there set positions in the rules; unlike many other forms of football, players from both teams may disperse across the whole field before the start of play. However, a typical on-field structure consists of six forwards, six defenders or "backmen" and six midfielders, usually two wingmen, one centre and three followers, including a ruckman, ruck-rover and rover. Only four players from each team are allowed within the centre square (50 metres (55 yd)) at every centre bounce, which occurs at the commencement of each quarter, and to restart the game after a goal is scored. There are also other rules pertaining to allowed player positions during set plays (that is, after a mark or free kick) and during kick-ins following the scoring of a behind.

Match duration[edit]

A game consists of four quarters and a timekeeper officiates their duration. At professional level quarters consist of 20 minutes of play, with the clock being stopped for instances such as scores, the ball going out of play or at the umpire's discretion. The umpire signals time-off to stop the clock for various reasons, such as the player in possession being tackled to the ground and leading to stagnant play as neither side can recover the ball. Time resumes when the umpire signals time-on or when the ball is brought into play. Such stoppages generally lead to quarters being extended by between five and ten minutes. The official game clock is only known on the field by the timekeepers. Official game time is not displayed to the players or the public; the only knowledge they have of time is when sirens sound to mark the beginning and end of each quarter. Official time may be approximated by broadcasters to display to television audiences. Teams change ends at the end of each quarter; umpires change ends at half time.

General play[edit]

Marking the ball is one of Australian football's distinctive features. (Pictured: Essendon great John Coleman takes a spectacular mark in 1950.)

Games are officiated by umpires. Before the game, the winner of a coin toss determines which directions the teams will play to begin. Australian football begins after the first siren, when the umpire bounces the ball on the ground (or throws it into the air if the condition of the ground is poor), and the two ruckmen (typically the tallest players from each team) battle for the ball in the air on its way back down. This is known as the ball-up. Certain disputes during play may also be settled with a ball-up from the point of contention. If the ball ever goes out of bounds (beyond the oval boundary line around the edge of the field), a boundary umpire will stand with his back to the infield and return the ball into play with a throw-in, a high backwards toss back into the field of play.

The ball can be propelled in any direction by way of a foot, clenched fist (called a handball or handpass) or open-hand tap but it cannot be thrown under any circumstances. Once a player takes possession of the ball he must dispose of it by either kicking or handballing it. Any other method of disposal is illegal and will result in a free kick to the opposing team. This is usually called "incorrect disposal", "dropping the ball" or "throwing". If the ball is not in the possession of one player it can be moved on with any part of the body.

A player may run with the ball, but it must be bounced or touched on the ground at least once every 15 metres. Opposition players may bump or tackle the player to obtain the ball and, when tackled, the player must dispose of the ball cleanly or risk being penalised for holding the ball. The ball carrier may only be tackled between the shoulders and knees. If the opposition player forcefully contacts a player in the back while performing a tackle, the opposition player will be penalised for a push in the back. If the opposition tackles the player with possession below the knees (a low tackle or a trip) or above the shoulders (a high tackle), the team with possession of the football gets a free kick.

Precise field and goal kicking is the most important skill in Australian football.

If a player takes possession of the ball that has travelled more than 15 metres (16 yd) from another player's kick, by way of a catch, it is claimed as a mark (meaning that the game stops while he prepares to kick from the point at which he marked). Alternatively, he may choose to "play on" forfeiting the set shot in the hope of pressing an advantage for his team (rather than allowing the opposition to reposition while he prepares for the free kick). Once a player has chosen to play on, normal play resumes and the player who took the mark is again able to be tackled.

There are different styles of kicking depending on how the ball is held in the hand. The most common style of kicking seen in today's game, principally because of its superior accuracy, is the drop punt, where the ball is dropped from the hands down, almost to the ground, to be kicked so that the ball rotates in a reverse end over end motion as it travels through the air. Other commonly used kicks are the torpedo punt (also known as the spiral, barrel, or screw punt), where the ball is held flatter at an angle across the body, which makes the ball spin around its long axis in the air, resulting in extra distance (similar to the traditional motion of an American football punt), and the checkside punt or "banana", kicked across the ball with the outside of the foot used to curve the ball (towards the right if kicked off the right foot) towards targets that are on an angle. There is also the "snap", which is almost the same as a checkside punt except that it is kicked off the inside of the foot and curves in the opposite direction. It is also possible to kick the ball so that it bounces along the ground. This is known as a "grubber". Grubbers can bounce in a straight line, or curve to the left or right.

Apart from free kicks, marks or when the ball is in the possession of an umpire for a ball up or throw in, the ball is always in dispute and any player from either side can take possession of the ball.

Scoring[edit]

Sherrin is the official game ball of the Australian Football League.
The two tall central posts are the goal posts, and the two shorter outer posts are the behind posts

A goal, worth 6 points, is scored when the football is propelled through the goal posts at any height (including above the height of the posts) by way of a kick from the attacking team. It may fly through "on the full" (without touching the ground) or bounce through, but must not have been touched, on the way, by any player from either team. A goal cannot be scored from the foot of an opposition (defending) player.

A behind, worth 1 point, is scored when the ball passes between a goal post and a behind post at any height, or if the ball hits a goal post, or if any player sends the ball between the goal posts by touching it with any part of the body other than a foot. A behind is also awarded to the attacking team if the ball touches any part of an opposition player, including his foot, before passing between the goal posts. When an opposition player deliberately scores a behind for the attacking team (generally as a last resort, because of the risk of their scoring a goal) this is termed a rushed behind. Before the start of the 2009 season, there was no additional penalty imposed for rushing a behind, compared to any other behind. However, for the start of the 2009 season[43] a new rule was announced[44] awarding a free kick against any player who deliberately rushes a behind.

The goal umpire signals a goal with two hands pointed forward at elbow height, or a behind with one hand. The umpire then confirms the signal with the other goal umpire by waving flags above their heads.

The team that has scored the most points at the end of play wins the game. If the scores are level on points at the end of play, then the game is a draw; extra time applies only during finals matches in some competitions.

As an example of a score report, consider a match between Essendon and Melbourne with the former as the home team. Essendon's score of 11 goals and 14 behinds equates to 80 points. Melbourne's score of 10 goals and 7 behinds equates to a 67-point tally. Essendon wins the match by a margin of 13 points. Such a result would be written as:

"Essendon 11.14 (80) defeated Melbourne 10.7 (67)."[45]

And said:

"Essendon, eleven-fourteen, eighty, defeated Melbourne ten-seven, sixty-seven".

Additionally, it can be said that:

"Essendon defeated Melbourne by thirteen points".

The home team is typically listed first and the visiting side is listed second. The scoreline is written with respect to the home side.

For example, Port Adelaide won in successive weeks, once as the home side and once as the visiting side. These would be written out thus:

"Port Adelaide 23.20 (158) defeated Essendon 8.14 (62)."[46]
"West Coast 17.13 (115) defeated by Port Adelaide 18.10 (118)."[47]

Structure and competitions[edit]

The football season proper is from March to August (early autumn to late winter in Australia) with finals being held in September and October.[48] In the tropics, the game is sometimes played in the wet season (October to March).[49] Pre-season competitions in southern Australia usually begin in late February.

The AFL is recognised by the Australian Sports Commission as being the National Sporting Organisation for Australian Football.[50] There are also seven state/territory-based organisations in Australia, most of which are now either owned by or affiliated to the AFL.

Most of these hold annual semi-professional club competitions while the others oversee more than one league. Local semi-professional or amateur organisations and competitions are often affiliated to their state organisations.

The AFL is the de facto world governing body for Australian football. There are also a number of affiliated organisations governing amateur clubs and competitions around the world.[51]

For almost all Australian football club competitions the aim is to win the Premiership. The premiership is always decided by a finals series. The teams that occupy the highest positions on the ladder after the home-and-away season play off in a "semi-knockout" finals series, culminating in a single Grand Final match to determine the premiers. Typically between four and eight teams contest the finals series. The team which finishes first on the ladder after the home-and-away season is referred to as a "minor premier", but this usually holds little stand-alone significance, other than receiving a better draw in the finals.

Many suburban and amateur leagues have a sufficient number of teams to be played across several tiered divisions, with promotion of the lower division premiers and relegation of the upper division's last placed team at the end of each year. At present, none of the top level national or state level leagues in Australia are large enough to warrant this structure.

Women's Australian football[edit]

Action from a women's match on the Gold Coast between Bond University and Burleigh Heads

The level of interest shown by women in Australian football in considered unique among the world's football codes.[52] It was the case in the 19th-century, as it is in modern times, that women made up approximately half of crowds at Australian football matches—a far greater proportion than soccer and the two rugby codes.[53] This has been attributed in part to the egalitarian character of Australian football's origins in public parks where women could mingle freely and support the game in various ways.[54]

As of 2015, over 280,000 females participate in the game across Australia.[1] The AFL Women's National Championships is the premier competition for women's Australian football. On the back of the inaugural AFL Women's Draft in 2013 and a series of exhibition matches at the MCG, the AFL stated that it would like to establish a semi-professional, nationally televised women's league competition by 2020.[55] A surge in viewing interest and participation in women's football prompted the AFL to push the league's founding date to 2017.[56]

Australian football internationally[edit]

Australian football match at Linkbelt Oval in Nauru, where Australian football is considered the national sport

Australian football is played at an amateur level in various countries throughout the world. Twenty countries participated in the Euro Cup and 23 countries have participated in the International Cup with both competitions prohibiting Australian players. Over 20 countries have either affiliation or working agreements with the AFL.[57] There have been many VFL/AFL players who were born outside Australia, an increasing number of which have been recruited through initiatives such as the Irish experiment and more recently, international scholarship programs.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the game spread with the Australian diaspora to areas such as New Zealand and South Africa; however this growth went into rapid decline following World War I. After World War II, the sport experienced a small amount of growth in the Pacific region, particularly in Nauru, where Australian football is the national sport, as well as Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.[58]

Most of the current amateur clubs and leagues in existence have developed since the 1980s, when leagues began to be established in North America, Europe and Asia. The sport developed a cult following in the United States when matches were broadcast on ESPN in the late 1980s.[59] As the size of the Australian diaspora has increased, so has the number of clubs outside Australia. This expansion has been further aided by multiculturalism and assisted by exhibition matches as well as exposure generated through players who have converted to and from other football codes. In Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the United States there are many thousands of players.

Prince Charles is the Patron of AFL Europe. In 2013, participation across AFL Europe's 21 member nations was more than 5,000 players, the majority of which are European nationals rather than Australian expats.[60] The sport also has a growing presence in India.[61]

The AFL became the de facto governing body when it pushed for the closure of the International Australian Football Council in 2002. The Australian Football International Cup is currently the highest level of senior international competition.

International rules football[edit]

The similarities between Australian football and the Irish sport of Gaelic football have allowed for the creation of a hybrid code known as international rules football. The first international rules matches were contested in Ireland during the 1967 Australian Football World Tour. Since then, various sets of compromise rules have been trialed, and in 1984 the International Rules Series commenced with national representative sides selected by Australia's state leagues (later by the AFL) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The competition became an annual event in 1998, but was postponed indefinitely in 2007 when the GAA pulled out due to Australia's severe and aggressive style of play.[62] It resumed in Australia in 2008 under new rules to protect the player with the ball.

Cultural impact and popularity[edit]

South Melbourne's renowned ruck combination of the 1920s, left to right: Mark Tandy, Fred Fleiter and Roy Cazaly. Fleiter coined the phrase "Up there, Cazaly!" as a signal that he had cleared the way for Cazaly to leap for the ball. It was used as a battle cry by Australian soldiers during World War II, and inspired Mike Brady's 1979 Australian football anthem of the same name.

Australian football is a sport rich in tradition and Australian cultural references, especially surrounding the rituals of gameday for players, officials and supporters.

Australian football has been an inspiration for writers and poets including Manning Clarke, Bruce Dawe and Philip Hodgins.[63] Paintings by Arthur Streeton (The National Game, 1889) and Sidney Nolan (Footballer, 1946) helped to establish Australian football as a serious subject for artists.[64] Many Aboriginal artists have explored the game, often fusing it with the mythology of their region.[65][66] Statues of Australian football identities can be found throughout the country. In cartooning, WEG's VFL/AFL premiership posters—inaugurated in 1954—have achieved iconic status among Australian football fans.[67] Dance sequences based on Australian football feature heavily in Robert Helpmann's 1964 ballet The Display, his first and most famous work for the Australian Ballet.[68] The game has also inspired well-known plays such as And the Big Men Fly (1963) by Alan Hopgood and David Williamson's The Club (1977), which was adapted into a 1980 film by director Bruce Beresford. Mike Brady's 1979 hit "Up There Cazaly" is considered an Australian football anthem, and references to the sport can be found in works by popular musicians, from singer-songwriter Paul Kelly to the alternative rock band TISM.[69] Many Australian football video games have been released, most notably the AFL series.

Australian football is popular among indigenous communities.

Australian football has attracted more overall interest among Australians (as measured by the Sweeney Sports report) than any other football code, and, when compared with all sports throughout the nation, has consistently ranked first in the winter reports, and most recently third behind cricket and swimming in summer.[70][71]

In 2006, 615,549 registered participants played Australian football in Australia.[72] Participation increased 7.84% between 2005 and 2006.[72] The Australian Sports Commission statistics show a 64% increase in the total number of participants over the 10-year period between 2001 and 2010.[73] In 2008 there were 35,000 people in 32 countries playing in structured competitions of Australian football outside of Australia.[74]

Many related games have emerged from Australian football, mainly with variations of contact to encourage greater participation. These include kick-to-kick (and its variants end-to-end footy and marks up), Auskick, rec footy, 9-a-side footy, masters Australian football, handball and longest-kick competitions. Players outside of Australia sometimes engage in related games adapted to available fields, like metro footy (played on gridiron fields) and Samoa rules (played on rugby fields).

Australian Football Hall of Fame[edit]

For the centenary of the VFL/AFL in 1996, the Australian Football Hall of Fame was established. In that year 136 identities were inducted, including 100 players, 10 coaches, 10 umpires, 10 administrators and six media representatives.[75]

The elite Legend status was bestowed on 12 members of the Hall of Fame in 1996: Ron Barassi, Haydn Bunton Senior, Roy Cazaly, John Coleman, Jack Dyer, Polly Farmer, Leigh Matthews, John Nicholls, Bob Pratt, Dick Reynolds, Bob Skilton and Ted Whitten (see above list for further details).

The following thirteen members have been promoted to the status of "Legend" since 1996: Ian Stewart (1997), Gordon Coventry (1998), Peter Hudson (1999), Kevin Bartlett (2000), Barrie Robran (2001), Bill Hutchison (2003), Jock McHale (2005), Darrel Baldock (2006), Norm Smith (2007), Alex Jesaulenko (2008),[76] Kevin Murray (2010),[77] Barry Cable (2012),[78] and Tony Lockett (2015).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Phelan, Jennifer (13 October 2015). "Women's participation soars in 2015", AFL. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  2. ^ "About the AFL: Australian Football (Official title of the code)". Australian Football League. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "History website". Footy.com.au. Archived from the original on 19 February 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Connolly, Rohan (22 March 2012). "Name of the game is up in the air in NSW". The Age. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  5. ^ 2012 Laws of the game (p. 6)
  6. ^ In some special situations such as Grand Finals or other knockout tournaments, if the score is tied, either extra time or a rematch the following week is required to get a result.
  7. ^ 2012 Laws of the game Section 14, page 45
  8. ^ History Official Website of the Australian Football League
  9. ^ Wendy Lewis, Simon Balderstone and John Bowan (2006). Events That Shaped Australia. New Holland. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9. 
  10. ^ "4174.0 – Sports Attendance, Australia, April 1999". Abs.gov.au. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "4174.0 – Sports Attendance, Australia, 2005–06". Abs.gov.au. Archived from the original on 14 March 2010. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  12. ^ First Australian Rules Game, Monument Australia. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  13. ^ Pennings 2012, p. 8.
  14. ^ "St Kilda Historical Society Aug–Sep 2008." (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  15. ^ The Melbourne Book – A History of Now. Published 2003. Hardie Grant Books. South Yarra. ISBN 1-74066-049-8. pg. 182
  16. ^ de Moore 2011, pp. 86–87.
  17. ^ Blainey 2010, pp. 19–22.
  18. ^ Pennings 2012, p. 14.
  19. ^ Blainey 2010, pp. 23–26.
  20. ^ Ken Piesse (1995). The Complete Guide to Australian Football. Pan Macmillan Australia. ISBN 0-330-35712-3.  p303.
  21. ^ Paproth, Daniel (4 June 2012). "The oldest of school rivals". The Weekly Review Stonnington. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  22. ^ Collins, Tony (2011). "Chapter 1: National Myths, Imperial Pasts and the Origins of Australian Rules Football". In Wagg, Stephen. Myths and Milestones in the History of Sport. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 14. ISBN 0-230-24125-5. 
  23. ^ Blainey 2010, pp. 187–196.
  24. ^ Hibbins & Ruddell 2009, p. 8.
  25. ^ Flanagan, Martin (22 May 2011). "Searching for marngrook". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  26. ^ de Moore 2011, pp. 322–323.
  27. ^ Pennings 2011, p. 15.
  28. ^ Pennings 2012, p. 11.
  29. ^ Pennings 2012, p. 19.
  30. ^ Hibbins & Ruddell 2009, p. 7.
  31. ^ Hibbins & Ruddell 2009, pp. 18–20.
  32. ^ Hibbins & Ruddell 2009, pp. 22–23.
  33. ^ Coventry 2015, pp. 16–17, 20.
  34. ^ Pramberg, Bernie (15 June 2015). "Love of the Game: Aussie rules a dominant sport in early Queensland", The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  35. ^ Blainey 2010, pp. 107–108.
  36. ^ a b Pennings 2013.
  37. ^ "Football in Australia". Evening Post, Volume LXXXVIII, Issue 122, (New Zealand). 19 November 1914. p. 8. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  38. ^ "Football amalgamation". Evening Post, Volume LXXXIX, Issue 27 (New Zealand). 2 February 1915. p. 8. Retrieved 3 December 2009. 
  39. ^ "A False Dawn". AustralianFootball.com. 20 August 1908. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  40. ^ Marshall, Konrad (26 February 2016). "Where do rugby codes' strongholds turn to rules? At the 'Barassi Line', of course...", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  41. ^ Referenced in Hutchinson, Garrie (1983). The Great Australian Book of Football Stories. Melbourne: Currey O'Neil. 
  42. ^ WICKS, B. M. Whatever Happened to Australian Rules? Hobart, Tasmania, Libra Books. 1980, First Edition. (ISBN 0-909619-06-9)
  43. ^ AFL rules on deliberate rushed behinds
  44. ^ All clear for rushed behind rule | Herald Sun
  45. ^ "Essendon v Melbourne". AFL Tables. 2 April 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  46. ^ http://www.footywire.com/afl/footy/ft_match_statistics?mid=1845
  47. ^ http://www.footywire.com/afl/footy/ft_match_statistics?mid=1851
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  52. ^ Flanagan, Martin (12 March 2011). "Balance a key to great game", The Age. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  53. ^ Hess, Rob (2000). "'Ladies are Specially Invited': Women in the Culture of Australian Rules Football". In Mangan, J. A.; Nauright, John. Sport in Australasian Society: Past and Present. Psychology Press. pp. 111–141. ISBN 978-0-7146506-0-9.
  54. ^ Browne, Ashley (2008). "For Women, Too". In Weston, James. The Australian Game of Football: Since 1858. Geoff Slattery Publishing. pp. 253–259. ISBN 978-0-9803466-6-4.
  55. ^ Lane, Samantha (27 March 2013). "AFL sees the light on women's footy", The Age. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  56. ^ "160 years on, women's Aussie Rules league gets the nod" (20 April 2016), Daily Mail Australia. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
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  58. ^ Roffey, Chelsea (30 July 2008). "Team Profile: Nauru Chiefs". Afl.com.au. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  59. ^ Delaney, Tim; Madigan, Tim (2009). The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction. McFarland. pp. 284–285. ISBN 078645315X. 
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  61. ^ Rith Basu, Ayan Paul (2 November 2015). "Soccer city gets a taste of Aussie football". Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  62. ^ Haxton, Nance (3 January 2007). "Sounds of Summer: International Rules Series". PM, ABC Radio National. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  63. ^ Alomes, Stephen (2007), "The Lie of the Ground: Aesthetics and Australian Football", Double Dialogues (Deakin University) (8), ISSN 1447-9591 
  64. ^ McAullife, Chris (1995). "Eyes on the Ball: Images of Australian Rules Football", Art & Australia (Vol 32 No 4), pp. 490–500
  65. ^ Heathcote, Christopher (August 2009). "Bush Football: The Kunoth Family", Art Monthly (Issue 222).
  66. ^ Angel, Anita (23 November 2009). "Looking at Art", Charles Darwin University Art Collection & Art Gallery. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  67. ^ Rielly, Stephen (30 December 2008). "Cartoonist William Ellis Green spoke to AFL tribe", The Australian. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  68. ^ Douglas, Tim (30 August 2012). "Ballet's former glories show footy's left its mark", The Australian. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  69. ^ Worrell, Shane (3 April 2010). "Modern footy not in tune", Bendigo Advertiser. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  70. ^ Media Release, Sweeney Sport report for 2006–07 Archived 27 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  71. ^ Derriman, Philip (22 May 2003). "If you can kick it, Australia will watch it". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  72. ^ a b Niall, Jake (20 June 2007). "More chase Sherrin than before". Real Footy. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  73. ^ "Participation in Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey 2010 Annual Report" (PDF). pp. 34–35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 October 2011. 
  74. ^ Curtis, R. (11 May 2008). "Pacific nations bemoan AFL neglect". The Sunday Age (Melbourne).
  75. ^ "AFL Hall of Fame and Sensation". Getaway.ninemsn.com.au. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  76. ^ "Legends – Official Website of the Australian Football League". Afl.com.au. Retrieved 19 February 2010. 
  77. ^ "Murray a Legend, six inducted". afl.com.au. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  78. ^ Green, Warwick (14 June 2012). "Barry Cable elevated to Legend status". Herald Sun. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

Books

  • Blainey, Geoffrey (2010). A Game of Our Own: The Origins of Australian Football. Black Inc. ISBN 9781863954853. 
  • Coventry, James (2015). Time and Space: The Tactics That Shaped Australian Rules and the Players and Coaches Who Mastered Them. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-7333-3369-9. 
  • de Moore, Greg (2011). Tom Wills: First Wild Man of Australian Sport. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74237-598-4. 
  • Hess, Rob (2008). A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football. Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-07089-3. 
  • Hibbins, Gillian; Mancini, Anne (1987). Running with the Ball: Football's Foster Father. Lynedoch Publications. ISBN 978-0-7316-0481-4. 
  • Hibbins, Gillian (2008). "Men of Purpose". In Weston, James. The Australian Game of Football: Since 1858. Geoff Slattery Publishing. pp. 31–45. ISBN 978-0-9803466-6-4. 
  • Hibbins, Gillian (2013). "The Cambridge Connection: The English Origins of Australian Football". In Mangan, J. A. The Cultural Bond: Sport, Empire, Society. Routledge. pp. 108–127. ISBN 9781135024376. 
  • Pennings, Mark (2012). Origins of Australian Football: Victoria's Early History: Volume 1: Amateur Heroes and the Rise of Clubs, 1858 to 1876. Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd. ISBN 9781921421471. 

Journals

External links[edit]