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PostSubject: Australian Rules Football   5th March 2008, 5:46 pm



Australian rules football, also known as Australian football, Aussie rules, or simply "football" or "footy" is a code of football played with a prolate spheroid ball, on large oval shaped fields (cricket fields), with four posts at each end. No more than 18 players of each team are permitted to be on the field at any time, with four interchange players on the bench, and the primary aim of the game is to score by kicking the ball between the posts. The winner is the team who has the higher total score by the end of the match.

There are several different ways to advance the ball, including kicking and hand passing. When hand passing one hand must be used to hold the ball and the other fist to hit it — throwing the ball is not allowed. Players running with the ball must bounce or touch it on the ground every 15 metres. There is no offside rule and players can roam the field freely. Australian rules is a contact sport. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick is paid. Players who hold on to the ball too long are penalised if they are tackled by an opposition player who is then rewarded, whilst players who catch a ball from a kick exceeding 15 metres (known as a mark) are awarded uncontested possession. The duration of play varies, but is longer than in any other code of football.

Frequent contests for possession including aerial marking or "speckies," and vigorous tackling with the hands, bumps and the fast movement of both players and the ball are the game's main attributes as a spectator sport.

The game originated in Victoria during the Victorian gold rush, and organised and codified in Melbourne in 1858 in a bid to keep cricketers fit during the winter months. The first laws of Australian football were published in 1859 by the Melbourne Football Club. The most prestigious professional competition is the Australian Football League (AFL), which culminates in the annual AFL Grand Final, the highest attended club championship event in the world. The league has governed the sport through the AFL Commission and the AFL Rules Committee, since it disbanded the Australian National Football Council in 1993.

Structure and competitions
An Australian Football League Premiership season match at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast between Adelaide and Melbourne. The AFL is the most most attended national competition in Australia and the only fully professional league for Australian Rules in the world.The football season, proper, is from March to August (early autumn to late winter in Australia) with finals being held in September. In the tropics, the game is played in the wet season (October to March). Pre-season competitions in southern Australia usually begin in late February.
The AFL is recognized by the Australian Sports Commission as being the National Sporting Organisation for Australian rules football. 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 organizations and competitions are often affiliated to their state organisations.
The AFL is also the de facto world governing body for Australian rules football. There are also a number of organisations governing amateur clubs and competitions around the world.
Unlike most soccer competitions there are usually no separate "league" and "cup" trophies. The team finishing first on the ladder is often referred to as a 'minor premier', although this bears little or no significance. This is called the McClelland Trophy in the AFL and is considered a consolation prize. For almost all Australian rules competitions the focus is almost always on winning the premiership. The team which finishes at the bottom of the ladder at the end of the season is said to get 'the wooden spoon'.
The premiership is always decided by a finals series. The teams that occupy the highest positions play off in a "semi-knockout" finals series (The AFL finals system differs from many amateur competitions in that it gives some teams a double chance). The two successful teams meet in the Grand Final to contest the Premiership.


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PostSubject: Re: Australian Rules Football   21st April 2008, 9:27 pm

Rules of the game
The playing field, which may be 135-185m long and 110-155m wide. The centre square is 40x40. The curved fifty metre line is 50m away from the goal line. Adjacent goal posts are 6.4 metres apart.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 four interchange (reserve) players may be swapped for those on the field at any time during the game. There is no offside rule nor are there set positions in the rules; unlike many other forms of football, players from both teams disperse across the whole field before the start of play. However, only four players from each team are allowed within the 50m centre square before 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 (i.e., after a mark or free kick) and during kick-ins following the scoring of a behind.
A game consists of four quarters. The length of the quarters can vary from 15 to 25 minutes in different leagues. In the AFL, quarters are 20 minutes, but the clock is stopped when the ball is out of play, meaning that an average quarter could last for 27 to 31 minutes. At the end of each quarter, teams change their scoring end.
Games are officiated by umpires. Unlike other forms of football, Australian football begins similarly to basketball. After the first siren, 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.
The ball can be propelled in any direction by way of a foot, clenched fist (called a handball or handpass) or open-hand tap (unlike rugby football there is no knock-on rule) but it cannot be thrown under any circumstances. Throwing is defined in the rules quite broadly but is essentially any open hand disposal that causes the ball to move upward in the air.
An Australian football. The Sherrin brand is used for all official AFL matches. A red ball like this is used for day matches and a yellow ball is used for night matches.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 whilst 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, it is ruled as a low tackle or a trip, and the team with possession of the football gets a free kick.
If a player takes possession of the ball that has traveled more than 15 metres from another player's kick, by way of a catch, it is claimed as a mark and that player may then have a free kick (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, due principally to its superior accuracy, is the drop punt (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 or screw punt; the ball is held at an angle and kicked, which makes the ball spiral in the air, resulting in extra distance) and the checkside punt or "snap", used to curve the ball towards targets that are on an angle. Forms of kicking which have now disappeared from the game include the drop kick (similar to the drop punt except that the ball is allowed to make contact with the ground momentarily before being struck with the foot) and place kick (where the ball is first placed on the ground when shooting for goal, similar to the place kick used in rugby union).
Apart from free kicks 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.
A goal 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 or bounce through and must not be 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 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 an attacking 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, due to the risk of their scoring a goal) this is termed a rushed behind.
If the ball hits one of the behind posts, the ball is considered out of bounds and no score is awarded.
A goal is worth 6 points whereas a behind is worth 1 point. The Goal Umpire signals a goal with two hands raised at elbow height, a behind with one hand, and then confirms the signal with the other goal umpire by waving flags above his head.
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.

Origins of the Game
Tom Wills is widely credited with devising Australian rules in Melbourne in 1858. A letter by Wills was published in Bell's Life in Victoria & Sporting Chronicle on 10 July, 1858, calling for a "foot-ball club" with a "code of laws" to keep cricketers fit during winter.[2] His letter attracted other football players, and an experimental match, played by Wills and others, at the Richmond Paddock (later known as Yarra Park next to the MCG) on 31 July, 1858, was probably the first game of Australian football. Unfortunately however, few details of the match have survived.
On 7 August, 1858, two significant events in the development of the game occurred. The Melbourne Football Club, one of the world's first football clubs in any code, was informally founded, and a famous match between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College began, umpired by Wills. A second day of play took place on 21 August and a third, and final, day on 4 September. The two schools have competed annually ever since.
A game at the Richmond Paddock in the 1860s. A pavilion at the MCG is on the left in the background. (A wood engraving made by Robert Bruce on July 27, 1866.)The Melbourne Football Club rules of 1859 are the oldest surviving set of laws for Australian football. They were drawn up at the Parade Hotel, East Melbourne, on 17 May, by Wills, W. J. Hammersley, J. B. Thompson and Thomas Smith (some sources include H. C. A. Harrison).[3] The influence of English public school and university football codes, while undetermined, was clearly substantial. All members of the committee had experience of English or Irish games. Tom Wills, it is claimed, wanted to introduce Rugby School rules but the other three men felt Rugby School’s rough play and offside rules would not suit players older than schoolboys or the drier Australian conditions.[5] They did look at the Rugby School Rules but also those of Eton, Winchester and Harrow.
Finally eleven simple Melbourne Football Club Rules were laid out, printed and, most significantly, widely publicised. As other Clubs began, including the Geelong Football Club, there were some rival rules which eventually gave way to an acceptance of the Melbourne Rules. The rules did not include the requirement to bounce the ball while running which was introduced in 1866.
It is also often said that Wills was partly inspired by the ball games of the local Aboriginal people in western Victoria. Marn Grook (accounts of which date back to 1841) was a recreational activity that used a ball made out of possum hide, featured jumping to catch the ball for the equivalent of a free kick. This appears to have resembled the high marking in Australian football. The original recorded size of the Aboriginal playing field varies with records, but most records state that the playing field was about 1.6 km (1 mile) long. There were no goal posts, but teams played until there was a single winner, sometimes the side with the player who had the most possessions or the side that kicked the ball the most and the furthest. Wills was raised in Victoria's western districts and is said to have played with local Aboriginal children on his father's property, Lexington, near Ararat.
While it is clear even to casual observers that Australian rules football is similar to Gaelic football, the exact relationship is a matter of controversy among historians. Although Gaelic football was not codified until 1887, traditional Irish games were being played in Australia as early as 1843. Historian B. W. O'Dwyer points out that Australian football has always been differentiated from rugby football by having no limitation on ball or player movement (that is, no offside rule). The need to bounce or toe-kick the ball while running, and tapping the ball with one hand rather than throwing it, are also elements of modern Gaelic football. O'Dwyer suggests that some of these elements may be attributed to the common influence of older Irish games
Australian football internationally
Aussie Rules is played at amateur level in countries around the world. About 16,000 people play in structured competitions outside of Australia and at least 20 leagues that are recognised by the game's governing body, exist outside of Australia.[10] In contrast, there are over 600,000 players in Australia and overseas players make up less than 2% of the total players worldwide. Although semi-professional players have come from outside of Australia, and there have been several players in the VFL/AFL who have were born outside Australia, no player to learn the game overseas has yet played a game in the Australian Football League.
The growth of Australian rules in the 19th Century and early 20th Century was rapid, but it 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, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Australian rules football is emerging as an international sport much later than other forms of football such as soccer or rugby, but has grown substantially as an amateur sport in some countries since the 1980s. Initially the sport has grown with the Australian diaspora, aided by multiculturalism and assisted by exhibition matches and players who have converted to and from other football codes. In Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States there are many thousands of players. Canada, Japan, Denmark and Sweden have also shown strong potential in the sport amongst local players in the lead up to the 2008 Australian Football International Cup.
The AFL became the defacto governing body when it pushed for the closure of the International Australian Football Council in 2005.
Australian rules football is played professionally only by men in Australia and is major spectator sport only in Australia and Nauru with the exception of occasional exhibition games staged in other countries and carnival type events overseas.

International Rules Football
Since 1967 there have been many matches between Australian and Irish teams, under various sets of hybrid, compromise rules known as International rules football. In 1984, the first official representative matches of International Rules were played, and these were played annually each October between the AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association between 1998 and 2006 as part of the official International Rules Series which have attracted large crowds and media interest in both Ireland and Australia.

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