Rules of AFL

Rules of AFL
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Ten hand-written rules displayed in a museum in the heart of the National Heritage-listed Melbourne Cricket Ground hold the key to a great Australian sport.

If Australian Rules football was a religion, these rules would be its bible.

Driven by champion sportsperson and sporting administrator Tom Wills in 1859, the rules established a football code to help cricketers keep fit in the off-season. While several rules remain the same today, some – such as allowing defenders to trip a person in possession of the ball – have been scrapped.

The Australian Football League is now a multi-million dollar business and one of the most popular sports in Australia.

Did you know:

  • Australian Rules football was played for the first time on the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1859.
  • In the first 18 years of Australian Rules football only nine matches were played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, because preparations for the cricket season began as early as July, in the middle of winter. Footy was played outside the ground at Yarra Park.
  • Tom Wills, who was one of the founders of Australian Rules football, also coached the first-ever Australian cricket team to tour England. The team was composed entirely of Indigenous Australians.

Australia's Heritage: National Treasures with Chris Taylor is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.