Major League Footy winter matches are predominantly played under ‘Metro Rules’. Adapted for the USA, Metro Rules footy is played with smaller teams (generally 9-a-side), and on a rectangular soccer or American football field. Within those adaptations, the basic rules of the game are in accordance with traditional footy.
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 ‘Metro Rules’.
Major League Footy, is a regional competition for ‘Metro Rules’ Footy in Florida, ‘and Metro rules’ is an adaptation of the sport specifically for smaller rosters and gridiron fields.
These variations from traditional footy enable competition with smaller rosters of available players. Just as importantly, the game makes use of commonly available playing grounds.
THE BASICS OF FOOTY – WITH VARIATIONS FOR ‘METRO RULES’
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 involves two teams 18 players from each team on the field at any one time, plus a bench of 4 “interchange” players that can rotate on and off during the game, ‘Metro Rules’ is a full-contact American adaptation of the game that can see as few as 7 players per team (but more commonly 9, 12 or 14 per side). Metro footy is played on a standard (rectangular) football or soccer field.
There is no limit on how many substitutions teams can make.
Traditional games are divided into 4 quarters of 20 minutes each. 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 each – or even two 20-minute halves of ‘straight time’. Teams change ends after each quarter. Total game time for a regulation game is about 2 hours.
STARTING THE GAME:
Just as in traditional footy, the game begins with a siren sound or umpire’s whistle. An umpire then bounces or tosses 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 teammates to gain possession.
A ruckman is very similar to a center in basketball on a ball up play. The ball is also bounced in the center 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 free 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. In Metro Rules, all players are eligible to score. This differs from ‘AFL 9s’ in which only forwards can score. Also unlike ‘AFL 9s’, in which female players are awarded 9 points for a goal, Metro Rules follows traditional scoring for all players
The game score is written with the goals first, the behinds second, and the total points last. Example: 14 Goals – 9 Behinds = 93 points in total. A final line score for this result would be shown as 14.9.93. The team that finishes with the highest total of goals and behinds is the winner.
In Metro Rules footy, teams line-up in ‘lines’ of 3 players across the ground. Those are:
Backline / Center line / Forward line. Those lines generally consist of three players per line, with flexibility granted for number of players available. Players in all three lines are eligible to score, from any position on the field.
In the USA, there is generally one field umpire who controls the game. There are also umpires in each goal. Major League Footy umpires are accredited as both AFL Level I umpires, and also for AFL 9s rules matches.
A player running with the ball must bounce or touch the ball on the ground approximately every 15 yards. A penalty will be assessed for running to far without bouncing.
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 approximately 15 yards 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 5 yards 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). Although referred to in the tradition of the sport as ’50 meters’, the distance awarded in Metro rules will generally be approximately 30 yards.