Australian Rules Football

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Aussie Rules!

No, that is not self-congratulating sentiment, but the local description of the game called "Australian Rules Football". This game is a mix between Soccer and Gaeillic Football. The mix has rendered it completely unrecognisable.

Probably the most disconcerting things about Aussie Rules is that it really doesn't have nearly as many rules in it as the name suggests. But there are certainly some rules.

Firstly, you play on an oval shaped field. This oval shaped field is the same shape as the ball you play with - a bit like a Gridiron ball, but really, nothing like it at all. At each pointy end, there are four sticks lined up with each other. If you kick the ball between the middle two, you get 6 points - a "goal". If you kick the ball between outer two, you get 1 point. No-one ever accused Australians of not being able to count. Except maybe the British.

Now on this field there is a centre circle, surrounded by a centre square. There are also "50 metre lines". These are lines drawn 50 metres away from each end. The surface is invariably grass and you play the game during the Winter when it is not ridiculously hot.

Two teams play against each other, consisting of 18 players a side, with a couple on the bench. You can kick the ball or hand-pass it, which is an action whereby you punch the ball with your hand. You cannot throw it. If you kick the ball and someone catches it mid-air, it is a "mark", and they are entitled to a free kick. That is, a kick while nobody is trying to hurt them. The rest of the time, you try and hurt each other by grabbing them and throwing them onto the ground. Or alternatively, you can launch yourself at them with your hip and shoulder and knock them over. As long as you don't hit them in the head, trip them over, push them in the back or interfere with them with your hands while they are trying to catch the ball, it's okay.

It's probably a good time to point out that there are no pads used in this game, though a mouth-guard is advised. The most common injuries are damaged knees, pulled groins or severe embarrassment from having your shorts torn off you by over-zealous defenders.

Australians are unique in their desire to play and watch this game. It is unquestionably the most played game in Australia. Australians generally regard the rest of the world as too small, to slow and too unfit to participate in this sport properly.

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