Rules of Aussie Football | How it is Played?

The Aussie rules football is quite different from the typical football that is undoubtedly the most popular and richest sport in the world. Aussie rule football is a combination of football and rugby, not only in the way it is played but its playing field is also very similar to a Rugby field.

Rules of Aussie Football

It’s a physical sport which requires athleticism and superior fitness to compete. In simple words, some may call it a tougher game than the traditional football because of the fact physical contact is perfectly legal in it.

This unique kind of football game developed its evolution in Melbourne, Australia in 1858. However, the origins of this game before 1858 are still unclear because of the fact there were multitude of football games in Britain, Europe and Australia whose rules influenced the early football games popular in Australia to a great extent.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to score more points than your opposite team. Unlike traditional football, there are no nets but 4 high poles on each side of the ground. To score a point/points, you have to send the ball between these posts and the number of points you’ll earn depends upon the goal post you choose to hit.

How to Play?

Aussie Rules Football is a combination of traditional football and rugby. Players are allowed to kick the ball and use their palms to pass it to each other. But the goal can only be scored by kicking the ball between 4 high poles in their opponent’s half. Each of these 4 poles have a specific number of points.

Tackling is legal but it should be within the rules of the game. Players are punished for violating rules of the game including fouls which have been discussed below in the rules of the game.

General Rules of Aussie Football

  • Each team fields 18 players at a time.
  • Up to 3 players can be interchanged in one game.
  • There is also one substitute in case of injury.
  • The game starts with a ball up in the center square. The referee hits the ball in the center square and teams waiting on either side of the center can take the possession of the ball after that.
  • After every goal, the game starts in a similar fashion with the referee hitting the ball in the center square, and from there any team can take possession of the ball.
  • If you send the ball between goalposts, straight through the holes without any deflection by any of the opponents, you get 6 points.
  • If the ball is deflected before going into the goal post, you get only 1 point.
  • The use of hands is legal. They can pass the ball to their teammates and kick it as well. But the points can only be scored by kicking the ball, you can’t send the ball between goalposts by using your hands.
  • To pass the ball, you must place the ball in the palm of the hand and then hit the ball with the butt of the other hand clenched into a fist.
  • Throwing is illegal and it can result in a freekick for the non-offensive side.
  • If your teammate kicks the ball in the air for 15 meters or more and you catch the ball, this is called Mark. This results in a free kick to you, in which you can hit the ball between the opposition’s goal post from the Marked spot.
  • But for this free kick, you must hit the ball in 10 seconds. If you fail to do so, the opposite team can snatch the ball from you.
  • You can only tackle the player in possession of the ball, from shoulder height to downwards.
  • You can’t push or hit the back of your opponent, but if a player is standing in your way while your teammate has kicked the ball in the air for a Mark, you can use your opponent’s back to catch the ball. This is also called Speckie in Aussie Football.
  • If a player kicks the ball and up goes the siren, indicating the end of the play, the points scored by this kick will count.

Time Duration of Aussie Football

The game of Aussie football is played in four 20-minute quarters and the combined playing duration of the game is 80 minutes.

Playing Field

The game is played on an oval field, that is generally 185 meters by 155 meters. This is probably the largest playing field in any sport. There is a center circle and center square (no specific dimensions are specified for these two and they probably vary with the size of the ground.)

There are two 50-meter lines arch around both the goalposts.

Goalposts: There are 4 goalposts on either side of the ground. These goalposts have no height limit like Rugby. Each of the 4 goalposts are 6 meters apart from each other.

Protective Zone: This is an imaginary line formed during the free kick. This is like a corridor stretching to 10 meters to either side of the ball-carrier backwards from the mark. No player from either team can come in this area until the free kick has been hit.

Out of Bounds: There are boundary lines surrounding the whole playing field. If the ball goes past these lines, it is considered out of bounds. In case of out of bounds, the game restarts with the referee bouncing the ball hard in the center square.

Center square: The center square is 50 m × 50 m and is always in the center of the ground.

Playing Equipment

There is no equipment required, except the protective gear that players may ought to wear for safety purposes. The ball used in Aussie football is similar to Rugby ball. It is made from leather and forms an oval shape like a Rugby ball.

As per the regulations, an Aussie football must be 720–730 millimetres (28–29 in) in circumference, and 545–555 mm (21.5–21.9 in) transverse circumference, and inflated to a pressure of 62–76 kPa (9.0–11.0 psi).

50 Meter Penalty Offenses in Aussie Football

Here are some of the offenses that result in a penalty, a free kick from 50-meter away from the goalpost.

  • Arguing or using abusive language towards the umpire
  • Scragging the player who has taken the mark
  • Running forward from the mark. Once you have earned the mark you can’t move forward even for a foot to gain unfair advantage by getting nearer to the goalpost.
  • Wasting time by any means.
  • Entering the protective zone.

Common Free Kick Infringements

Free kicks are paid for:

  • Holding the ball despite being taken down or tackled. Once you have been tackled down, you must release the ball. Players often try to hide the ball underneath them, it is illegal.
  • When a player runs with the ball for more than 15 meters without bouncing it or touching it on the ground.
  • High tackle, above shoulder height.
  • Tackling an opponent who doesn’t have the possession of the ball.
  • When a player enters the playing field without following the interchange protocols.


There are more than 1 umpires present in the ground who maintain order in the game and give unbiased verdicts on goals, fouls, free kicks and penalties.

Aussie Football Famous Events

The Aussie Football Premier League is the most famous event of the game that takes place in Australia, every year.

Governing Body

Since the game is mostly played in Australia, as its name is also associated with the country, there is no governing body running the game at international level. The AFL commision (Australian Football league) serves as the governing body of the game at national level in the country.