Australian Rules Football (affectionately known as ‘Aussie Rules’ or ‘Footy’) is a code of football featuring high-scoring, hard-hitting and free flowing action from start to finish.
While the traditional game features 18-men to a side, playing on a cricket oval, a popular adaptation of the sport for American football (or soccer) fields is known as ‘Metro Rules’.
Major League Footy, is a winter regional competition for ‘Metro Rules’ Footy in Florida. Metro rules Australian football is an adaptation of the sport specifically for smaller rosters and gridiron fields. We also regularly play under ‘AFL 9s’ rules. AFL 9s is the Australian Football League’s co-ed, non-contact social version of the sport.
The league commenced play in November 2016, and is founded by the St. Petersburg Swans (Tampa Bay ARFC) – the area’s entry in the United States Australian Football League. League play is scheduled during the USAFL off-season.
THE BASICS OF AUSTRALIAN FOOTBALL:
Essentially, footy is about two opposing teams attempting to kick goals and finish the match with the highest number of total points. A goal is scored when the football is kicked through the taller posts (the goalposts) and is worth 6 points.
If the football goes between either of the shorter outside posts (the behind posts), a behind is scored and 1 point is added to that team’s tally. The action continues through four quarters and for close to two hours. Enjoy the spectacle!
GOAL = 6 points
BEHIND = 1 point
Understanding the action…
THE TEAMS AND FIELD:
While the traditional game will involve two teams of 22 players with 18 from each team on the field at any one time (with an additional 4 “interchange” players that it can rotate on and off during the game), an American adaptation of the game ‘Metro Rules’ can see as few as 7 players per team (but more commonly 9-14), played on a standard gridiron football or soccer field. There is no limit on how many changes teams can make.
Games are divided into 4 quarters of 20 minutes. Extra time is added for stops in play so most quarters run for about 30 minutes. In the USA, it’s not uncommon for games to be 4 quarters of 10, 15 or 20 minutes – or even 2 20-minute halves.
Teams change ends after each quarter. Total game time for a regulation game is about 2 hours.
STARTING THE GAME:
The game starts when a siren sounds. An umpire then bounces the ball high into the air in the center of the field. One player from each team- ‘ruck men’ then tries to tap the ball to their team mates. A ruckman is very similar to a center in basketball on a ball up play. The ball is also bounced in the centre to start each quarter and after a goal has been scored.
MOVING THE FOOTBALL:
Teams try to get the football and then run, kick and handball it towards their goals. If a player marks the ball (catches it), they are entitled to a set kick and the opposition is not allowed to touch him until he plays on. Players can also run with the ball. The ball can be advanced by any player in any direction (so long as by kick or handball), and there is no offside rule.
A player can take control of the ball by tackling an opponent. A legal tackle is performed by grabbing an opponent with the ball, below the shoulders and above the knees. Players are not allowed to push an opponent in the back while making a tackle and tackled players must correctly dispose of (pass) the ball within a reasonable time (1 to 2 seconds).
A free kick is awarded against a player caught in possession of the ball with a legal (good) tackle. If the tackle is illegal (inappropriate) a free kick will be awarded to the player with the ball.
The aim of the game is to kick goals. Kicking the ball through the taller middle posts (the goalposts) = 6 points. If the ball goes between a goalpost and the smaller outside posts (the behind posts), a behind (1 point) is scored. The score is written with the goals first, the behinds second, and the total points last.
14 Goals – 9 Behinds – 93 points in total
The team that finishes with the highest total of goals and behinds is the winner.
Teams line – up in ‘lines’ of 3 players across the ground. They are:
There are also 3 other players who rove around the ground.
There are 3 field umpires who control the game.
There are also umpires in each goal and boundary umpires who decide when the ball has gone out and then throw it back in.
A player running with the ball must bounce or touch the ball on the ground approximately every 10 yards or 15m
A handball involves holding the football in one hand and hitting it with the clenched fist of the other hand. This is a legal means of passing to a teammate.
Awarded when a player catches a kick that has traveled at least 10 yards / 15m on the fly and has not been touched by any player. As for a free kick the player may go back and dispose of the ball unimpeded by the opposition.
HOLDING THE BALL:
Players cannot throw the ball or drop the ball. Players must pass the ball by foot or hand or they can be penalized for ‘holding the ball’. The umpire will definitely award this penalty if a player has opportunity to pass the ball. The shout of ‘BALL!!” is perhaps the most common cry from football crowds. It generally means the player has been tackled before he released the ball and had opportunity to do so. Or that he dropped the ball.
HOLDING THE MAN:
A free kick is awarded to a player that has been tackled whilst not in possession of the ball.
An opposition player may be shepherded (blocked) from a contest provided he is within 5m of the contest. This is done by standing between the opposition player and your teammate with the ball.
Awarded by the umpire when a player disputes umpires decision, abuses an umpire or does not return the ball to the opposition correctly after a penalty awarded (i.e. must give the ball back on the full –not place on the ground or throw away).