Australian Rules

Please find a quick explanation of how to play the game of Australian Rules.


A team is usually made up of 20 to 22 players, but only 18 at a time are on the field. At any time, a substitute may be interchanged with one of the other participating players. The player he’s replacing must leave the field before the interchange player goes on. Both players must pass through the interchange area, which is marked by two lines, each 7.5 meters from the middle of the pitch. There’s one exception to this rule: If a player is seriously injured, his replacement may enter the game while the injured player is still on the field.

Match Duration

Made up of four quarters of 25 minutes each, with breaks of 3 minutes between the first and second quarters, 15 minutes at halftime, and 5 minutes between the third and fourth quarters.


Goal (6 points)
A goal is scored when the ball kicked by an attacking player passes between the goal posts as long as it has not been touched by any other player

Behind (1 point)

A point is scored when;

  • The ball passes between the goal and behind posts
  • The ball passes between the goal posts but was touched by another player
  • The ball hits or travels over a goal post
  • The ball is kicked untouched through the goals by a defender


The team with the most points at the end of the fourth period is the winner. If the scores are even, the match is a draw.

Out of Bounds

If the ball travels completely over the boundary line (or hits a behind post) it will be thrown back into play by the boundary umpire from where it crossed the line.

Out of Bounds on the Full

If the ball is kicked and travels completely over the boundary line, or hits/travels over a behind post without being touched, a free kick is awarded to the other team from where the ball went out on the full

Start of Play

To commence each quarter of play the umpire bounces/throws up the ball in the centre circle

Kicking out from a behind

After a behind is scored a player of the defending team shall kick the ball into the field of play from within the goal square. Contact must be made before the ball completely crosses the line of the goal square. No player is allowed within 5m of the goal square during the kick out. The defender may kick the ball to himself and play on provided the ball has travelled a minimum of 2m into the field of play from the goal square kick off line.


  • Marking – if a player catches the ball on the full from a kick that has travelled more than 10m and was not touched, a mark is awarded and the player has free possession. (i.e. cannot be tackled) One player from the other team is permitted to stand on the spot where the mark was taken
  • Holding the ball – A player may hold the ball for an unlimited time in general play provided they are not tackled and held by an opponent
  • Running with the ball – a player may run with the ball as long as it is bounced or touched on the ground every 15m


  • A player may be fairly hit or checked by an opponent using the hip, shoulder, chest, arms or open hand provided the ball is within 5m
  • A player may be shepherded by a teammate provided the ball is within 5m
  • A player with possession may fend off a tackler by pushing with an open hand on the chest, shoulder or side
  • A player in possession may be fairly tackled/grasped anywhere below the shoulders and on or above the knees

Free Kicks

A free kick is taken from the spot where the infringement occurred and is awarded if a player

  • Throws or hands the ball to another player
  • Shepherds an opponent when the ball is more than 5m away
  • Trips, kicks or attempts to kick/trip an opponent /li>
  • Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • Deliberately forces the ball out of bounds
  • Tackles the opponent above the head or below the knees
  • Pushes an opponent from behind and in the back
  • Pushes, bumps or shepherds a player above the shoulder /li>
  • Pushes, bumps, shepherds an opponent going for a mark
  • Throws, holds or tackles an opponent after they have disposed of the ball
  • Shakes the goal post
  • Wastes time deliberately
  • Enters the centre square during the centre bounce
  • Interferes with the umpire trying to bounce the ball

Centre Square

Only four players from each team are allowed in the centre square before the bounce of the ball. Once the ball is bounced any player may enter the centre square

50m Penalty

A 50m penalty is awarded if a player encroaches over the mark or deliberately wastes time (i.e. holding the player up or slowing them from taking a free kick) or runs through/into the 10m protected area around the player taking the free kick


The ball may be kicked or handballed

  • Kicking – Contact below the knee
  • Handball – The ball is held in/on one hand and hit with a clenched fist of the other hand