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Australian Rules Football

Now, before I came to New Zealand I'd never watched - let alone played - Australian Rules Football. All I knew about the game is that it was a haven for people who like to belt the living daylights out of others and not get arrested for it as well as an opportunity to wear figure-hugging sleeveless sweaters.

Anyway, how did I even get into Aussie Rules? Well, firstly I was invited to join an on-line tipping league. This is where each week you login and predict what scores will eventuate in each game that will be played this week (I played at www.superbru.com, an excellent site if tipping leagues are your thing). Having selected my picks for the week, I would occasionally tune in to the one game of Aussie Rules shown on New Zealand TV each week and see how I was doing. The first match I saw featured a team called the Sydney Swans, and true to my expectations the game featured a right old punch up as one of the Sydney players thumped an opposition player in the face and knocked the guy out - all for no apparent reason. Well, it turns out they've cracked down on this sort of behaviour and so the offender was banned for a significant length of time (a few months as I recall) and could have faced criminal charges. So, maybe Aussie Rules isn't as violent as some people like to make out.

The next step was that a guy at work used to play Aussie Rules when he lived in Sydney and was now helping to run a local team called the Hutt Valley Eagles. Despite the fact I'd never played the game, hadn't played rugby for well over ten years and never enjoyed rugby, I thought I'd give it a go - if only for the expected improvement in my fitness that should result from playing the game. I turned up to training a few times, failed to pick up most of the required skills, but still played a few games - disrupting a few opposition forwards but otherwise fairly indistinguished. Still, at least I gave it a go.

Since then, Andy has given up playing the sport but has watched a few games including the big ANZAC Day contest between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG:

Sydney Swans vs. Carlton Blues at the SCG in 2009
Collingwood Magpies vs. Essendon Bombers at the MCG in 2011
Greater Western Sydney Giants vs. St Kilda Saints at the Manuka Oval, Canberra in 2013
St Kilda Saints vs. Sydney Swans at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington in 2013 (the first proper AFL game to be staged outside of Australia)

Anyone fancy a Retail Level turnover budget? Taking some affirmative action.
Some photos from an Aussie Rules game between the Hutt Valley Eagles and the Wellington   Bulldogs. The Bulldogs went on to win the Wellington AFL competition..

Top Left: The view from Elsdon Park, Porirua. All Wellington AFL games are played at this ground. A bit of a trek for those teams not based in Porirua. I'm in this picture, but you probably can't tell its me!
Top Right: One from a different angle, showing the four goalposts for AFL. Kick the ball between the middle posts and you get 6 points, between an outer post and a middle post and you get a single point (called a "behind"). If the opposition take the ball through the posts in any way, usually in order to gain a tactical advantage from the resulting kick-off, you score a single point (called "forced behind")
Right: A throw in has been taken here (spot the ball in the air) and a Hutt Valley and Bulldogs player are both about to contest the ball. .
I found it, I found it and it was THIS big!!