Looking for something new to get into within the wolrd of sport in 2013, then look no further than the exhilirating, non-stop action of Aussie Rules football. Bryn Proudlove-Wilkes reports.

Last May, when searching for something to fill the void left by the conclusion of the rugby union and football seasons, I stumbled across a sport that I had been aware of for some time, but had never attempted to understand. Australian rules football, more commonly known as ‘Aussie Rules’ or colloquially ‘footie’ is by far the most popular sport across most of Australia – contrary to popular British belief of cricket and rugby league being the iconic games down under.

Ignore anyone who tells you that Aussie rules is the toughest code of football; I maintain that you’re far more likely to get hurt playing either form of rugby. That being said, it is a world away from the fall-over-and-roll-around nature of soccer. However, you look at it and it’s a fast paced and high scoring game that is very easy to become immersed in.

I won’t go on for too long about rules; generally they aren’t too difficult to pick up as you go along. Essentially, the game is played by eighteen players a side on an oval pitch about 150m long. At either end there are four posts. Kicking the ball between the two middle posts is a ‘goal’ and gains your team six points, whereas kicking the ball between a middle and an outside post is known as a 'behind’ and is worth one point. The ball is passed between players by either kicking or ‘handballing’ (striking the ball with the hand – throwing is not allowed). Catching a kick on the full that has travelled fifteen metres or more is known as a ‘mark’ and gets you a free kick.

If this sounds like something you may want to get into, the AFL (Australian Football League) season begins again in March, with the preseason NAB Cup starting the month before. If you’re looking for a team to back, among the favourites are Hawthorn, Adelaide Crows, West Coast Eagles and, last season’s champions, Sydney Swans. If you’re looking for a club with a rich history, look no further than Melbourne based teams Carlton, Essendon and Collingwood. On the flip side, new franchises Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants and Gold Coast Suns could do with some extra support, having propped up the league in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, the AFL isn’t covered extensively over here in the UK, but you can catch four games each weekend of the regular season on ESPN. So, if you’re looking for something to get behind this summer and cricket and rugby league just aren’t up your street, I fully recommend you give footie a go.


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