The Road to Melbourne, from Round 17 on: The Aussie Rules Football Thread!

Some of you have noticed an increase in threads by me about soccer, as I’ve been watching lots of games from the 2006-07 season with Fox Soccer Channel and a DVR. I’m now beginning to get very interested in Aussie Rules Football and the AFL and am starting to download some Round 16 matches to watch…er…whenever they finish downloading, I guess. (We’ll not go over the details of this.)

Anyway, I’m utterly fascinated. Aussies, talk about the AFL here, anything you want to say about it. Educate me about the game’s history, the trends of the current season, your team, etc. or chat with other fans. This American hopes to be a fly on the wall for a great Aussie Rules conversation, as it’s a game we really are not exposed to in the least over here. Thanks!

I’m not really an AFL fan, but one tip:

Don’t refer to it as “ping-pong with a football” in front of Victorian’s (the state where the game started). It tends to upset them. :smiley:

Aussie Rules Football is my favorite team sport. The action is so often incredible. Much more physical than soccer, much more surprising than American football. The players leap like in basketball, kick like in soccer, and tackle like in American football. The ball can be kicked, dribbled, or handpassed (punching the ball from one hand with the other fist). There is little or no positional play, and the oval they play it on is enormous, with four times the area of an American football field.

Laws of Australian football.
Official website of the AFL.

In actual fact it is mainly about positional play and engineering physical matchups to your own advantage. It is one of those rare games that is not really suited to TV - it is easier to appreciate live. To strengthen your positonal appreciation pay attention to what happens at turnovers - how the team that wins the ball seems to suddenly find open players all over the field to sweep down field. Try to pay attention to who is playing the ball and you will often find players giving a handpass in one spot and then seconds later receiving one way down field. All this stuff isn’t obvious on TV but get out to a game and the movement is just unbelievable.

don’t ask, I think Walloon is saying that the concept of a position-based specialist is a fluid thing compared to soccer (where players pretty much have a specific role/niche and there’s certainly nothing like a “rover” who just hangs around wherever the ball is) and especially American football (where the rules make very specific distinctions between positions, everything from where each player can stand during a certain play to who they can shove in what context to what number they can wear). That’s what I think he means by “positional”, at least.

Speaking of seeing it live, there’s a free game here in San Diego on Sunday that I’ll try to get out to. Full reports are forthcoming if I make it out there, of course! :slight_smile:

So, how about some league analysis? Anyone?

Right, fetus, and thanks.

Wow! Looks like you can watch every game of the season on the AFL website for about $45 a year if you don’t live in Australia. I’ll have to look into that next year (far too late this season!).

Its always interesting to get a non-Aussie perspective on the game.

There are actually set positions for most of the players on the field except for 3 from each team who are the “followers” - your ruckman, ruck-rover and rover. So you do have specialist position players to some extent.

Having said that, the game has changed a lot in the last few years with teams now stacking their backline when not in possession - often referred to as “flooding”. Its kind of killing the game, IMHO. Its also leading to the demise of the specialist position player, again IMHO; if you’re flooding, then you have to be able to play at both ends. I think what will eventually happen is they’ll change the rules to prevent flooding e.g. by making rules restricting certain players to particular zones on the field.

I loves me some AFL as much as the next guy, but is this one of the most boring seasons for several years or is it just me? I can’t put my finger on what the problem is. Maybe I’m just pissed off cos my tipping is in the toilet this year.

For the last two months the biggest issue seems to be the 4 yearly (due to the FIFA world cup) comparison of AFL-Ausralian football to ‘soccer’. A lot of AFL supporters and administrators worry about whether AFL will be eclipsed by soccer in this country.
The palaver was greater this time becuase Australia actually qualified for the FIFA world cup and made the second round.
A lot of people also start thinking about changing the rules of AFL becuase of watching the FIFA world cup. For example, in today’s Melbourne Herald-sun the letter of the week to "Write to Mike Sheehan’, was about whether the AFL should adopt red and yellow cards.

What’s “tipping”? Is that betting?

Maybe the season is more boring because of the rise of flooding. As huge a soccer fan I am, I thought this year’s World Cup was awfully boring because of overly defensive play. I wonder if you’re right and the AFL will start implementing rules…I think the free flow of the game is one of the coolest things about it and I hope it doesn’t have to get to that point. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country’s football, but I don’t want to see Aussie rules turn into it!

Sometimes. Typically it’s a work competition with small prizes, but at some places it’s big money. At my work, it’s fairly casual. We put in $5 at the start of the year and the winner brings in cakes with the prize money at the end of the season. Some people who worked here a decade ago are still participants. Cake is bought on their behalf as appropriate.

As for TV coverage, whilst it’s true that you can’t get the real flavour of the game on Tv, matters are not helped by the networks’ insistence on close-ups of the man with the ball. If they just stuck with the medium wide shot for 90% of the time it would be much better.

I’m a St Kilda fan, so I’m moderately happy with the way things are going this year. We are looking to peak later in the season than in the last couple of years. If a few important players (any two of Xavier Clarke, Raphael Clarke, Hamill, the seemingly cursed Koschitzke) can get back in time for the finals, we’re a show. The Saints haven’t won the flag since 1966, so let’s not get too excited.

P’shaw. The entire league doesn’t exist in my house until Carlton pull themselves out of the toilet somehow.

I just finished watching Essendon vs Carlton from Round 16, which I was afraid would be lame since they were the two bottom teams, but ended up being an amazing game! I’ll save that one to show to my friends who’ve never seen the AFL before (like me before tonight–my only exposure was when Darren Bennett came over to punt for the Chargers and sometimes during Chargers games they would show old highlights of him kicking goals in the AFL).

  1. A couple times, I saw what I thought were underhand shovel passes. I thought from my reading of the rule summary that that was a “throw” and was illegal. Is it illegal (in which case I saw it wrong and it was really a handball that I couldn’t make out)? Or is an underhanded flip throw OK?

  2. A brief moment of controversy ensued in (IIRC) the third quarter, when a Bombers player kicked towards the goal and a Blues fullback dove at the ball and barely touched it with the end of his finger before it went between the goalposts. It was counted as a goal, but from what the commentators said while they were showing the instant replay, I got the impression that it would not have been a goal if the umpire had seen the fullback touch the ball. Is this true? How does that work? It seems odd that that would make a difference–the kick was clearly good enough to go in and the fullback was not in a suitable position to influence the flight path of the ball at all. Indeed, his touch didn’t change how it flew in any way. How does this work?

  3. How is it determined whether a player or an umpire throws the ball in after it goes out of bounds? I’ve seen players throw in, and umpires throw in. Is it just that players throw in when it goes out adjacent to the goal, and umpires throw in when it goes out on the side?

Man, this game is awesome. I can totally get behind this.

Flooding reminds me of Italian soccer. Bolster the back line and skew the game away from skills.

The mighty West Coast Eagles absolutely clobbered league-leaders the Adelaide Crows on Saturday here at Subiaco Oval in a traditional game which was anything but flooding. Chris Judd had an astonishing number of possessions.

The victory was sweetened by the Crows coach boasting prior to the game that his team would not lose another game this season.

No, all throwing is illegal. You must punch the ball with your fist to pass it to another player.

If you touch the ball after it leaves the boot of the scorer and it passes between the goal posts, no matter what difference the touch makes to the trajectory, this reduces the score from the kick from one goal (6 points) to a single point.

If the ball is kicked out of bounds on the full (that is, it is kicked clear over the boundary line) then the other team gets a free kick from that point on the boundary. If it bounces or is touched beforehand, then an umpire throws it back into play.

It really is best live. As someone said above, TV doesn’t give you a sense of the speed of it, nor the atmosphere - the club supporters are pretty tribal, and playing on your home ground really does give a team a significant advantage in terms of morale. The close-ups probably do give you a good sense of the physicality of it, though, especially the marks and tackles.

What First Among Daves said. Don’t get me started on this. The umpires are letting more throws by as supposed handballs. Its freaking annoying.

fetus, how much do you get over there? One game a week? I haven’t checked the afl site. Can you download entire games from there? Cool.

Zero. Not a single game ever. Back in the 80s ESPN used to show AFL games late at night and it developed a cult following over here, but since then it’s nowhere on American television. I think Fox Soccer Channel used to show it but they don’t anymore. Setanta Sports might, but that’s a subscription service.

I remember reading in Esquire magazine that AFL had some following in the US because of ESPN. A friend of mine (expat Aussie) is in Portland and I’m sure he said there was an amateur league about in the States.

United States Australian Rules Football League.

There are leagues in the States. Several of them, actually. We also have a national team which we send to Australia every once in a while and actually does fairly well, considering. Nobody here really cares about it, though. The ESPN thing was a cult following at best, and now ESPN plays SportsCenter or some such thing through the night instead and nobody knows about the sport here anymore. I consider myself a connoiseur of unloved sports and I had never heard of Australian football until somebody made a mention during a Chargers game that Darren Bennett had played it.

It’s worth noting, too, that the first Australian rules football match between two US teams wasn’t until 1996, a year after Darren Bennett started his NFL career. The record attendance in the US for a game between American teams is 1,000 (although a game between Australian teams in LA sold out). We’ve even tweaked the game to fit on our football fields rather than building a cricket ground. (The local non-Metro team actually plays on several soccer fields put together; I haven’t been to one of their games, but I’ve been to the venue, and it’s a middle school where they just play across several soccer fields that aren’t physically seperated from each other.)