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An Australian rules match in progress

Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, or simply called Aussie rules, football or footy, is a contact sport played between two teams of eighteen players on an oval-shaped field, often a modified cricket ground. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts (worth six points) or between goal and "behind" posts (worth one point).

During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods are kicking, handballing and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it on the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded possession. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid. Players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents. Dangerous physical contact (such as pushing an opponent in the back), interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are discouraged with free kicks, distance penalties or suspension for a certain number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement. The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring.

The sport's origins can be traced to football matches played in Melbourne, Victoria in 1858, inspired by English public school football games. Seeking to develop a game more suited to adults and Australian conditions, the Melbourne Football Club published the first laws of Australian football in May 1859, making it the oldest of the world's major football codes.

Australian football has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia, while the Australian Football League (AFL), the sport's only fully professional competition, is the nation's wealthiest sporting body. The AFL Grand Final, held annually at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, is the highest attended club championship event in the world. The sport is also played at amateur level in many countries and in several variations. Its rules are governed by the AFL Commission with the advice of the AFL's Laws of the Game Committee.

Australian Football League

The Australian Football League is the elite, professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. It was formerly known as the Victorian Football League (prior to 1990), and was established in 1897.

See 2017 AFL season for information on this year's AFL competition.

Team Current
Founded Joined
Adelaide Football Club Crows 1990 1991
Brisbane Lions Lions 1996 1997
Carlton Football Club Blues 1864 1897
Collingwood Football Club Magpies 1892 1897
Essendon Football Club Bombers 1871 1897
Fremantle Football Club Dockers 1994 1995
Geelong Football Club Cats 1859 1897
Gold Coast Football Club Suns 2009 2011
Greater Western Sydney Giants 2009 2012
Hawthorn Football Club Hawks 1902 1925
Melbourne Football Club Demons 1859 1897
North Melbourne Football Club Kangaroos 1869 1925
Port Adelaide Football Club Power 1870 1997
Richmond Football Club Tigers 1885 1908
St Kilda Football Club Saints 1873 1897
Sydney Swans Swans 1874* 1897
West Coast Eagles Eagles 1986 1987
Western Bulldogs Bulldogs 1877 1925

Other Leagues

Apart from the AFL, which is the only elite, fully professional league in the sport of Australian rules, there are numerous other leagues, at state level or amateur level. See List of Australian rules football leagues in Australia and List of Australian rules football leagues outside Australia.

Main leagues at state level include:

In 2011, a number of smaller leagues merged to form the NEAFL in AFL Canberra and the Queensland Australian Football League. Originally they existed as two different conferences, but in 2014 these conferences were abolished and several teams were relegated to smaller leagues.

Australian rules football outside Australia


AFL Quiz

Showcase article

A Melbourne University player takes possession of the ball in the 2007 VWFL Grand Final won by the Darebin Falcons.
Women's Australian rules football (also known as Women's Aussie Rules, Women's footy, Women's AFL or in areas where it is popular, simply football) is a fast growing sport played at senior level in Australia, United States, England, New Zealand, Canada and Japan. At junior level, it is also played in Papua New Guinea, Argentina and South Africa. At a schoolgirls level, it is also played in Tonga and Samoa...

Showcase picture

An Australian rules football match at the Richmond Paddock, Melbourne, in about 1866. The building in the background is the Melbourne Cricket Ground pavilion.

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Women's Australian rules football is the female version of the Australian rules football played in approximately 8 nations.

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