Introducing “Aussie Rules Football,” the Greatest Game on Earth

Photo: Darrian Traynor/AFL Media, via Getty Images

Being from Melbourne, Australia, I feel that it is my duty to introduce you to the best football game on earth—not American football (NFL), not rugby, not soccer but Australian rules football (AFL). It is the best game on the planet! Colloquially known as “Aussie rules” or “footy” and professionally played only in Australia, Aussie rules is the No. 1 football code in most states of Australia (New South Wales and Queensland play Rugby). It is a winter contact sport played between two teams of 18 players on an oval field with an oval ball. The objective is to score more points than the other team. The goals consist of 4 vertical posts at each end of the ground. If you kick the ball between the middle posts, it’s a goal (worth 6 points) and if you hit a post or kick the ball between the central and outer posts it’s a behind (1 point). Players can kick or handball the footy but can be tackled from all directions by the opposing team. The game consists of four 20-minute quarters and is highly entertaining.

Aussie rules football has the highest attendance and viewership of all the sports in Australia and the Australian Football League (AFL) is the sport’s fully professional competition. Its origins trace back to 1858 as a game invented to keep cricketers fit during the off-season. The first Aussie rules match was played in 1858 between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College.

Photo of GMHBA Stadium in South Geelong, Australia from

The most popular team in the AFL is the Collingwood Magpies (Black and white stripes). Collingwood actually has an American player, Mason Cox from Texas on its team.

As kicking the ball (or “punting”) is a big part of the game there are currently ex-AFL players now playing in the in the NFL as punters. Michael Dickson plays for the Seattle Seahawks, Arryn Siposs for the Philadelphia Eagles and Mitch Wishnowsky plays for the San Francisco 49ers. The most successful AFL player in the NFL was Darren Bennett who played AFL professionally before moving to the NFL and signing with the San Diego Chargers. As a former Aussie rules player, and considerably larger than most specialist kickers in American football (6’5″/1.96 m, 235 lbs./106.5 kg), he did not shy away from physical contact on special teams. This willingness to hit, rare among kickers, was never more evident than when he knocked an opposing punt returner out cold in his rookie season. Bennett was inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 2012.

Photo: an Australian Rules Football (

Aussie Rules is more than a sport Downunder. It’s an obsession and ingrained in the Victorian culture alongside Vegemite and good coffee. Media follow and discuss players’ form; people do footy tipping and play Supercoach (Fantasy teams) and discuss games in great detail. Grand Final day is even a public holiday in Victoria!

I grew up with a strong passion for Australian football and I strongly believe if Americans watched the game with an optimistic mindset, they would find it the best sport ever created. Unlike the NFL, players are on the field for all plays and can run up to 10 miles per game.  The game features numerous physical contests, spectacular catches (marks) and hard running, sprinting and possession chains to produce an entertaining, high scoring sporting match. Nothing beats being at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with 90,000 fans cheering for their teams. The atmosphere is electric.

Do yourself a favor and watch a match of AFL with an Aussie who can explain the rules. The season starts next month. Once you know what’s going on, you’ll love it!


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