In Australia alone, I’ve been to a rugby union, soccer, AFL and rugby league match. The soccer game — Sydney FC vs. Newcastle — was the most fun, the rugby league game — Bulldogs vs. Rabbitohs — was my favorite, but the Aussie Rules game — Swans vs. the new Giants — stands as the most fun to watch.
It will never gain hockey or football status for me, but its pace exeeds that of both those sports. Unfortunately the sport doesn’t exist much outside of isolated Oz, but if you ever find yourself in Sydney or Melbourne or anywhere with an AFL team, you must stop by to catch a game. Here’s why:
The clock never stops, and unlike American sports there are no “TV timeouts” or time halts for things like offsides. Play, however, does stall when players go out of bounds or commit fouls and the like, but play starts up again quickly.
In sports like soccer, the same timing rules apply, but the main difference between soccer and AFL is that you must get rid of the ball in the AFL. Tackling is legal, and if a player chooses to hold onto the ball for too long, they’re in danger of losing it to the other team.
As a result, players are constantly bumping and drop-kicking the ball away, keeping Aussie Rules a fast-paced game.
Now the basic point is to kick the ball through the two tallest goal posts on the field without the ball touching another player. The goal is worth six points, but players can also score a “behind,” which is when the ball touches a goal post, touches a player before it crosses the line, hits the goal post, goes between a tall and small goal post or touches another player on its way past the line. It’s worth one point.
So check it out, if you ever get the chance. For more information about the sport you can check out the website, and if you can’t fly away to Australia right now, here’s a YouTube clip highlighting the sport: