Etihad StadiumAustralian Rules Football was a game devised to make use of cricket pitches all year round.

There are similarities with both rugby and football but unlike these games you actually score a ‘behind’ worth one point, when your kick at ‘goal’ (worth six points) is slightly off target and goes through gap between the smaller posts either side of the two goal posts and the goal posts themselves.

Hawthorn vs St KildaThe state of Victoria is where the game is most popular in Australia with the majority of teams heralding from this area.

I am lucky that Richard has managed to get some free tickets for he, Emma and I to go and see a match at the ANZ stadium while I am in town.

The stadium is where the British and Irish Lions recently lost the second test against Australia, but I am here to see local side Hawthorn play St Kilda. It turns into a bit of a romp for Hawthorn who run away with the game in the end, but I can see that precise field and goal kicking is the most important skill in Australian football.

It is all the more impressive when done at pace. I used to watch Aussie rules in the UK when Channel 4 was first broadcasting and got a flavour of the game then, but it is much more interesting when you see all the play rather than just the narrow angle that the TV shows.

Aus KicksThe games governing body the AFL do everything they can to encourage the local youngsters into the game and the following morning I went to watch the household’s two experts take part in their last Aus-Kicks session of the season.

I am a tad horrified at what playing the game does to the wicket in the centre of the pitch. (The groundsman at my old cricket club would have a seizure!) but am challenged by Richard to have a kick at goal myself whilst on the pitch.

William & MatthewHaving spent a good part of my rugby career playing full back I think it will be easy to score, but it proves a tad more challenging that I was expecting. However I will blame the wearing of snug fitting jeans and walking boots for my lack of scoring prowess.

In stereotypical Australian style there is a BBQ after the session and all the youngsters are awarded certificates and trophies for their efforts through the season.

Here are William and Matthew in their Hawthorn colours proudly showing their awards off. I suspect they would have far less trouble scoring a goal than I did.

 

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