This is the quintessential local Australian sports game derived from a mixture of Rugby and Gaelic Football. It is played with 36 players (18 from two teams) on an elliptical shaped playing field; hence "footy" playing grounds are called ‘ovals’. First introduced in the state of Victoria in 1858, Aussie Rules are now played throughout the country with 16 teams in the major league (Australian Football League or AFL). Internationally, the game has strong followings in the UK and Ireland, US and Canada, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Often rated as one of the quickest and best spectator sport in the world, spectators are treated to a feast of frenetic one-on-one contests with high leaps, body contact, periods of sustained running and unpredictable bouncing patterns of the ‘rugby like’ ball. Players can move the ball by hand or foot forwards, backwards or sideways and players can run to any position on the oval as there is no offside rule unlike soccer. Additionally, players need pace to outrun or evade opponents and predict where the football goes since most of the time the football is in dispute and this is where some of the real excitement of Aussie Rules occurs.
A "mark" occurs usually with a high leap when a player uses an opponent as a step to a greater height to catch the football. It is the most spectacular and skillful manouevre unique to Australian Rules Football.
The usual footy game is divided into four quarters. Each quarter consists of 20 minutes playing time plus time-on. Time-on is the extra time allocated when play stops. The teams swap ends (kick in the other direction) at the end of each quarter. The object of the game is to score as many goals and points as possible. Generally, players move the football towards the direction of their goalposts. The goal posts consist of 4 poles. To score a goal, the football must pass between the inner two taller goalposts. A point is scored when the football passes between the tall and outer short goalpost. A goal is equivalent to six points. The score is usually showed as goals:points:total
At the start of play, the football is bounced and most players are already in their positions flanked by their opponents (remember no offside rule). The forward line will try to move to create playing space with their defending opponents trying to stay close to them. It is not uncommon to see player skirmishes.