Shane carried me along to a game of Australian Football, what is also known as “Aussie Rules”.  Shane had to explain many things about the game, and I hope I have remembered them all in writing this!  The game is based on Gaelic Football that came to Australia from Ireland more than 160 years ago.  The difference is that Gaelic Football uses a round ball, but Australian Football uses an oval ball.  It is bigger than an NFL ball.

Polly sits next to an Australian Football

Australian Football is the most popular sport in Australia with crowds of 80,000 or more at the bigger games.  Shane told me that there are four football codes in Australia – Australian Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union and Soccer; Australians love their sport!  In none of the sports do players wear padding or helmets.  Many people from overseas says that Australian Football is rough, but Shane tells me that the roughest sport is Rugby League.

The Australian Football field is very large and in the shape of an oval.  At the home of Australian Football in Melbourne, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the field is 161 metres long (176 yards) and 136 yards wide (149 yards).  Shane believes that it is the biggest playing surface of any football code in the world.

Polly attends a game of Australian Football - this is only half the playing field

At each end of the field are the goal posts.  There are four posts.  If a player kicks a ball through the two taller middle posts, it is a goal and worth 6 points. If it goes through either of the two smaller side posts, it is a behind and worth 1 point. If the ball hits a tall post it is 1 point and if it hits the small posts it is worth 0 points.

To signal the score, the Goal Umpire waves flags – one flag for a behind and two flags for a goal.  Shane used to be a Goal Umpire in school and he said it was fun!  The reason the Goal Umpire waves flags is that the Goal Umpire at the other end will wave his flags back to say he or she has seen the flags.  At the end of the game they will meet to compare the scores to make sure they are accurate.

A Goal Umpire signals a goal with two white flags

Each game is four quarters of 20 minutes, but the clock stops when the ball goes out of play or if play is restarted.  Each quarter normally lasts around 30 minutes of real time.

A team is made up of 18 players on the ground at any one time with an extra four players that can be used as replacements any time during the game.  One can change players an unlimited number of times.  There are seven umpires in the game – two Goal Umpires, two Boundary Umpires  and three Field Umpires (also known as Umpires).

A Boundary Umpire (in yellow) throws the ball over his head into play

A game of Australian Football is very fast.  Players will kick the ball a lot.  When they kick, they make the ball turn end over end as it is the most accurate kick.  A good kicker can kick a ball over 50 metres (55 yards) but normally it is kicked shorter distances.  To kick a very long way, one makes the ball spin (like a pass in the NFL) and the ball can go over 60 metres (66 yards) but it is not as accurate.  This kick is called a Torpedo Punt.

Australian Football players play in the NFL as punters because they kick the ball so much.  The difference is that in Australian Football the ball is supposed to be kicked low and fast, but in the NFL it is kicked high and slow.

If a ball is caught by a player than it is called a “mark” and he can kick the ball freely without someone trying to take the ball off him until he kicks.  Sometimes players jump very high and use their knees or legs on the backs of  other players to jump higher to catch the ball.  This is known as a “specky” which is a short word for “spectacular”.

A Port Adelaide player marks a ball

The other way to move the ball is the handball, when a player uses their hands to pass the ball to another player.  There are other rules that cover what happens if the ball goes out of bounds, or if a player holds the ball for too long, but it was too much information for me for one day!

On the game I watched, the two teams were the Brisbane Lions (who wear Maroon,  Blue and Gold) playing Port Adelaide Power (who wear black, white and teal).  The game was very close, and in the end, Brisbane won 15.9.99 (15 goals and 9 behinds for a total of 99 points) to Port’s score of 13.10.88 (13 goals and 10 behinds for a total of 88 points).

When I was leaving, I met a mascot for Brisbane!  We sat and talked for a while about Australian Football.  The mascot was very happy that Brisbane won.

Polly meets a Brisbane Lions mascot

I had a very enjoyable day at an Australian Football match – it was an exciting event for a frog to attend!  I now can watch the game on television and understand more what happens.   I hope you can understand more too!

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3 Responses to “Polly Attends a Game of Australian Football”

  1. Great post! Aussie rules football used to be shown on ESPN from time-to-time. It’s a great game, and I loved watching it. Usually the games were sponsored by Foster’s some other product fronted by Mick Dundee himself. That was about the time that Americans fell in love with everything Aussie. G’day, Polly!

  2. I think we should host a match between the Brisbane Lions and the Frogs! Australian fans would be in for a real treat!

  3. I think Australian football might look cooler than the way Americans play the sport of football. I know that it was made in America, so I don’t want to sound like a crazy dude, but did the Australian or any country help us make the yellow field goals or any other equipment?
    (3rd grade student)