Australia is a country that loves its sports, and it’s a very active place to live. It’s not uncommon to see people surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, or kayaking in the sea at 8am on a weekend. Most beaches also have volleyball pitches that are in near-constant use, and then there’s all the runners you see out and about. As well as that, everyone always seems to be on their way to do something ‘active’ – gym wear is a completely normal thing to wear to complete your daily activities, and it makes it seems like half the population is always on the way to, or the way back from, the gym. Although having seen this video (which is filmed in Australia) maybe that’s not quite the case…
I’m quite a fan of sport – I run and play netball, and go to sports matches when I can. I was luckily enough to get tickets to the Argentina v Namibia World Cup Rugby match at Leicester at the start of my second year, and often go to football matches as well. So when I came to Australia I had two sports-related items on my Year Abroad bucket list:
- Watch the Australian rugby team
- Go to the Australian rules football match
And as of Friday, I’ve done them both! So I thought I’d use this post to give you a low-down of the experience.
I was really lucky with the rugby match I went to. I’d only been here for a month and I hadn’t really started making progress on my bucket list – I was still settling in and just saying ‘yes’ to as many opportunities that came my way as possible. And so about three weeks into my trip, the exchange society here were selling tickets to an Australia v New Zealand rugby game. I jumped at the opportunity – not only would I be seeing Australia play, but I would be watching a re-run of the 2015 World Cup final, so supposedly a game against the two best teams in the world, and something of a local derby as there’s a bit of a rivalry between Australia and New Zealand.
It wasn’t quite the close encounter I’d wished for. Admittedly I have always been more of an All Blacks fan than an Australian rugby fan, so I was cheering more for the All Blacks, but I did just want a really good game. In the end it was an absolute thrashing by the All Blacks – they won 42-8. I saw a lot of tries and a lot of conversions, which was great. But it’s always nice to have a bit of a nail-biting game to watch, especially when you’re something of a neutral. So I really enjoyed the experience, and definitely consider myself very fortunate to have seen a game between two such good teams, but it wasn’t the most exciting!
I then took a long break between sporting events, but on Friday I went to my first Australian Football match (AFL) to see the Sydney Swans v the Hawks. AFL isn’t something I’d ever experienced before, what with it being an Australian game, so it was all a bit of a step into the unknown. From watching clips on YouTube it all looked a bit complicated, so I decided to swot up on the rules before I went, and it’s actually pretty simple: here are the basics
- It’s played on a cricket pitch because it was invented as a game to keep cricket players fit during the winter season
- There are 18 players on a team
- The ball is oval, like a rugby ball
- To pass the ball you either kick it or handball it (hold it in one hand and punch it with the other to pass it) – throwing is not allowed
- There are four goal posts, similar to rugby posts but without the cross bar – two tall ones in the centre and a shorter one on either side. If you get the ball between the two tall posts you get six points and that’s a goal (but if it hits another player or the post before going in, it’s only worth one point). If you get the ball in one of the goals at the side (i.e. between the short post and a tall post) it’s only worth one point
- Tackling is allowed, but it has to be between the shoulder and knee
- You can run with the ball but you have to bounce it every 15m
There are other rules but those are the most important. Having looked up the rules I’d say it definitely helped me to understand what was going on. I won’t say too much about the game because I know fellow blogger Ogechi will be writing about it in the near future, as she was there as well. But we had great seats to watch the action, and it was a really close game with only a few points in at the end, which made it really exciting and we all got really into it. I’m kind of frustrated that I left it towards the end of my year to go and watch a game as I would now love to go and watch another one, but I’m really pleased I went and would definitely recommend going to a match if you’re in Australia, as you can’t really watch it anywhere else!