Australian Football Sherrin

a rough guide

aussie rules explained

The game has the highest spectator attendance and television viewership of all sports in Australia.
The annual Grand Final is the highest attended club championship event in the world.

The game features frequent physical contests, spectacular marking, fast movement of both players and the ball and high scoring.

Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between goal posts (worth six points) or between goal and "behind" posts (worth one point).

During general play, players may position themselves anywhere on the field and use any part of their bodies to move the ball. The primary methods of ball-movement are kicking, handballing 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 on the ground.

A distinctive feature of the game is the mark, where players anywhere on the field who catch the ball from a kick (with specific conditions) are awarded possession.

Possession of the ball is in dispute at all times except when a free kick or mark is paid. Throwing the ball is not allowed and players must not get caught holding the ball.

Players can tackle using their hands or use their whole body to obstruct opponents.

Dangerous physical contact such as pushing an opponent in the back, interference when marking and deliberately slowing the play are not allowed, with free kicks, fifty‑metre penalties or suspension for a number of matches, depending on the seriousness of the infringement.

positions on the oval

rule changes 2019

The AFL Commission approved several alterations to the rules of the game, to come into effect for the 2019 season.

  • Traditional playing positions mandated at centre bounces (i.e. after goals have been scored)
  • Teams must have six players inside both 50m arcs, with one player inside the goalsquare.
  • Four midfield players must start inside the centre square with the two wingmen stationed along the wing.
  • At kick-ins, a player will no longer need to kick to himself to play on from the goalsquare.
  • Following a behind, the man on the mark will be brought out to 10m from the top of the goalsquare, rather than the existing five metres, due to the play on rule from kick-ins.
  • When defenders mark or receive a free kick within nine metres of their own goal, the man on the mark will be brought in line with the top of the goalsquare.
  • Team runners may only enter the playing surface after a goal has been kicked and must exit before play restarts.
  • Water carriers are not permitted to enter the playing surface during live play.
  • Players will be prohibited from setting up behind the umpire at centre bounces.

With respect to 50 metre penalties, the player with the ball:

  • Must be allowed to advance the mark by 50m without the infringing player delaying the game and;
  • Will be able to play on while the 50m penalty is being measured out.

With respect to kicks after the siren, a player in this situation:

  • Will be able to kick across their body using a snap or check-side.
  • They must kick the ball directly in line with the man on the mark and the goal.

The 'hands in the back' rule interpretation has been repealed so a player can now:

  • Place his hands on the back of his opponent to protect his position in a marking contest, provided he does not push his opponent in the back.

Where there is uncertainty over who is the designated ruckman, the ruckman for each team will still be required to nominate to the field umpire.

  • A ruckman who takes direct possession of the ball from a bounce, throw-up or boundary throw-in will no longer be regarded as having had prior opportunity.


Despite being called the Melbourne Cricket Ground the stadium has been used much more often for Australian rules football.

The first documented game, played between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College over three Saturdays beginning 7 August 1858, was played in this area.

glossary of terms

Australian Football has developed a unique and rich terminology.
This list is an alphabetical glossary of terms, jargon and slang.