[Earlier this year I put a site tracker onto Wilftonville, just for a week, and I found out that a surprising majority of readers come from the Down Undah’ (is that how you write it?). So… this one’s for you, Australia!]
Australian Rules Football
The National Sport Of: Australia
What Is It?
Having previously slighted American Rules Football for being wimpy at best, I’ll have to stand down a little. Aussie Rules Football is based around the rules of rugby, just like American Football is - but in the case of the Australians the sport isn’t toned down (wussified) at all. If anything, they add an extra layer of unpredictable violence into proceedings. Australian Rules football may not be football, but it certainly is a sport only the Australians could ever have invented.
The rules are almost simple. Two teams of eighteen (seriously? Eighteen? That’s insane!) take to the field, and stand essentially wherever they want before kickoff starts. The ball – a rugby ball – is thrown into play, and the madness then begins. The ball can be passed by punching it or kicking it, which adds credence to my belief this game was designed to appeal to the inner convict present in every Australian, but not through throwing. That makes it quite different from rugby, then. Also, if a player decides to run with the ball then they have to bounce it on the ground every fifteen metres. No trouble, except this is an oval rugby ball and they play on terrain which is typically slightly less well maintained than Wembley. On top of all that, the players from the other team (don’t forget; there are eighteen of them gunning for you once you grab the ball) can get it back off you by tackling you. Aussie rules are just like British ones in that the players aren’t given any protective gear – except, lord hopes, a cup – so when a player gets tackled they’re going to feel it.
There are four posts on each side of the pitch, and if a player can kick the ball between the two most middle posts then the team gains six points. If the ball misses and goes between a middle and outer post, or if the kick completely spastics out and hits a post, only one point is scored. In that respect, Aussie rules thus rewards even the sloppiest of players. After eighty minutes of killing each other, spread over four twenty-minute sections, the players are called in and go off for a barbeque and lager. Fosters, mate.
Why Doesn’t Britain Care?
Everything about Aussie rules seems to suggest that Britain would love the sport, if they could only get past that first word of the name. “Australian”. Y’see, that’s the problem for us all. When it comes to sport, the last thing we want to see is a participating Australian. As far as any Brit is concerned, the national hobby of Australia is “beating Britain” (of course, we get the occasional upset – an Ashes win here, maybe a Rugby World Cup on home turf after a last minute drop goal C’MON Jonny Wilkinson or an Olympics Medal Table that surprised even us, but typically we tend to lose to those bastards). If we play cricket, then those dirty Aussies will undermine the entire point of us shipping them abroad in the first place by beating us. Likewise with most other sports – Australia have a naturally tendency to be just that little bit better than us Brits, and that really rubs us up the wrong way sometimes. Grr, and all that.
So the reason why we don’t play any Australian sports like that, nor care about any Australians who do? Because if we give them any attention at all, then they’ll almost certainly change the names for all their teams to stuff like “The Pom-Bashers” and “The Limey-Toppers”. And help us, we find it difficult enough as it is to win at sports we invented against them – how would we ever compete if we played a sport against them that they’ve had years of practise with?