The Australians are renowned the world over for their love of sport and aside from drinking beer, sport is the average Australians favourite pastime. Here’s a brief look at the most popular sports in the land down under.
Australian Rules football
Officially called Australian football or alternatively footy, Aussie rules or just simply football is regarded as the one of the most popular sport in Australia. Despite the name Aussie football is nothing like the football that we know and love in the UK and Europe. The game is played between two teams of 18 players on an Aussie rules ground or modified cricket field.
The game sees the players trying to score points by passing the ball through the opposing team’s goal. The ball can be both handled and kicked in a similar vein to rugby except for the fact that there are four sets of goal posts at either end of the field. During play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their body to move the ball. The primary methods are handballing, kicking and running with the ball. There are rules on how the ball can be handled: for example, players running with the ball must intermittently bounce or touch it to the ground. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball. Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except during a free kick.
A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field that catch a ball from a kick (with specific conditions), are awarded a free kick. Australian Rules football is a contact sport, in which players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to block opponents. The sport is unique to Australia as it hasn’t taken off in any other nation. Probably due to the very complicated rules that may seem incomprehensible to a foreigner.
Cricket has been played in Australia for over 200 years with the first recorded match taking place in 1803. Cricket was introduced to the country by the British settlers and ever since the Aussies have excelled at the sport. It is the most popular sport in the country and is one of the most successful teams in the sports history having won the sports world cup four times, more than any other nation. The famous ashes series is played every 18 or 30 months between Australia and England and is one of the main reasons for the rivalry between the two nations.
Rugby is the third most popular sport in Australia and has been played since 1864. Rugby league is preferred over rugby union. The nation’s national team the Wallabies are one of the most successful teams in the sports history having won the Rugby world cup numerous times. Their biggest rival is the New Zealand All Blacks and the grudge match between the two is considered the apex of the union game. The Wallabies also have strong rivalry with England, France and Wales. In the winter thousands of spectators go to watch rugby matches making one of the most loved sports in the country.
Swimming is another hugely popular sport in Oz and is one of the sports the Australians excel at. In the Olympic Games it is often Australian swimmers that set the bar for excellence and all other competitors seek to beat them. The country’s governing body for competitive swimming has over 90,000 registered members and heads over 1100 clubs across the country. Swimming is one of the nation’s leading sports and continues to produce excellent swimmers and champions. The most famous Aussie swimmer is Ian Thorpe nicknamed the ‘Thorpedo’.