Previously, we have asked Mamamia readers to confess the topics that you just Do. Not. Understand. We loved your honesty and since then have tried to help out with bringing you up to speed on issues like the asylum seeker debate, the basics of climate change and the conflict in Syria.
As we hit finals season, we thought it was timely to answer the calls of MANY of you that we provide a footy codes cheat sheet. So here it is, courtesy of the fab team over at Know The Game. Enjoy.
by PAULA WARD
Australia is a sporting nation. There’s no doubt sport is a key part of our national identity. Not surprisingly then most Australians love sport but, maybe – you don’t. Chances are though you’ll be surrounded by plenty that do.
Perhaps your kids are playing football at school or on a Saturday and you dread the thought of standing on the sidelines with the other parents who seemingly know when to cheer or provide a critique of the on-field antics.
It could be that your husband/brother/sister/dad/flat mate commandeers the household remote control every weekend to watch ‘the game’ and be oblivious to all else.
Maybe you think a maul is a shopping centre and a dummy half is a broken pacifier.
Your home may be a sports-free zone but, come Monday morning, your boss always talks about the weekend of sport and your clients are forever asking who ‘your team’ is and then talk about some big game that was just played.
You can see the worth in being included in these conversations – being able to engage, build rapport and make a sensible contribution. You know there’s value in being able to comment about sport beyond whether Shane Warne and Liz Hurley will make it to the altar (and you know that’s hardly sports talk).
So, when people talk about ‘footy’, what are they actually talking about? Is it AFL, rugby union or rugby league? It all looks the same on TV – a bunch of blokes running around tossing and kicking a ball, piling on top of each other and occasionally throwing a punch or two. And what about the other one that gets played overseas a lot… isn’t that football? But don’t we call it soccer?
In the minefield of football, it helps to know the basics. To at least know which one you are looking at when it flickers on screen or is the topic of conversation.
Well, to help you out, here’s a snapshot of some of the key differences between Australia’s four footy codes.
AFL (also known as Aussie Rules)
- There are 18 players on each team playing on the field at any one time.
- The field is oval and the ball is a symmetrical oval shape usually made from leather.
- The players can run wherever they want on the field and pass/kick the ball in any direction. There is no ‘offside’.
- When a player is tackled, he/she needs to try to get the ball to a teammate as soon as possible.
- Scoring: a goal is worth 6 points; a behind is worth 1 point.
- Common Terminology: handball, mark, running with the ball, the contest.
- Unique to the Game: a player can’t get sent off during a game, even if the rules are broken. The Tribunal will deal with them later.
Rugby League (also referred to as NRL given that’s the name of the national competition)
- There are 13 players on each team playing on the field at any one time.
- The field is rectangle and the ball is synthetic and oval shaped.
- The players run forward and throw the ball backward to teammates who are behind them.
- When a player is tackled and held, they must hold onto the ball and not let go of it.
- Scoring: a try equals 4 points; a conversion equals 2 points; a penalty goal equals 2 points and a field goal (or drop goal) equals 1 point.
- Common Terminology: play the ball, dummy half, change over, 40:20 rule, stripping the ball, double movement, scrum.
- Unique to the Game: the attacking team is only allowed six tackles before the ball must be given to the opposing team. Often just before the sixth tackle, the attacking team will kick the ball forward and chase it with the aim of regaining the ball to score a try.
Rugby Union (true believers will call this ‘rugby’ and expect you to know they are talking about rugby union and not ‘league’)
- There are 15 players on each team playing on the field at any one time.
- The field is rectangle and the ball is oval shaped.
- Like rugby league, the players run forward and throw the ball backward, to teammates who are behind them.
- When a player is tackled, they must let go of the ball. They will try to release it to one of their teammates.
- Scoring: a try is worth 5 points; a conversion is worth 2 points; a penalty try is worth 5 points; a penalty goal will result in 3 points and a dropped goal is equal to 3 points.
- Common Terminology: lineout, scrum, ruck, maul, the breakdown.
- Unique to the Game: to return the ball to play after it has gone outside of the field of play (ie, into touch), a line-out is formed. This requires some players from each team to form their own line and stand parallel to each other (at right angles to the touch line) and be a meter apart. They will jump into the air to try to gain possession of the ball which will be thrown in by another player from one of the teams. The throw-in must be straight to give both teams a reasonable chance of getting the ball.
Soccer (or as it should be called, Football)
- There are 11 players on each team playing on the field at any one time.
- The field is rectangle and the ball is round.
- With the exception of the goalkeeper, when the ball is on the field, the players cannot touch the ball with their hands. They kick it or occasionally use their head to deflect the ball in a certain direction.
- Scoring: a goal is worth 1 point and a penalty goal is also worth 1 point.
- Common Terminology: throw-in, a corner kick, offside, dribbling, penalty shoot-out, yellow card, red card.
- Unique to the Game: on occasion, a player will ‘take a dive’. This means a player dives to the ground and rolls around simulating a painful injury in an attempt to convince the referee of foul play. The aim is for a penalty (or free kick) to be given to this player’s team. It’s some of the worst B-grade acting you’ll ever see and sparks outrage from the opposition’s fans. Unfortunately, some referees must not watch many soap operas and don’t recognise the poor acting.
Paula Ward is founder and director of Know The Game, a business focused on educating people about Australia’s most popular sports. Through face-to-face workshops, the emphasis is to assist people who have not grown up watching or playing Australian sports and now find themselves in a work or social situation where sport is frequently discussed. You can follow, like, link, or subscribe to their free e-news, From The Sidelines.
Do you follow a footy code? Another sport?