Back home, I wasn’t much for sport, but I think Rugby is something that both Sarah and I can get behind. We started watching in France and after arriving in Australia I’ve found a whole new world of sport.
There are at least four different games that someone might refer to as ‘footie’, each varying by popularity depending upon where you grew up, and what school you attended.
- Rugby Union is the traditional rugby that the rest of the world is familiar with. However, my colleagues claim that it’s mostly played by posh children at private schools
- Rugby League is a variation of Union, designed to speed up the game. To my untrained eye, it’s a sort of hybrid between Rugby Union, gridiron football, and greco-roman wrestling. Each side gets a number of ‘downs’ to get a point, after which there’s a turnover and the other side goes. Players tackle each other, and stop play after getting pinned. It makes for a quick, and tense, back and forth style of play. This game is most popular in Eastern Australia, and is considered to be more of a blue collar game.
- And then there’s Australian Football, or Bouncy Football as I like to call it. I don’t fully understand what’s happening, but it’s always a joy to watch – like children’s soccer. AFL games are played on a circular pitch, with two sets of goals on either end. You are awarded points for kicking through either set of goals, and it appears that you have to bounce the ball every ten yards or face a penalty. My favourite bits are actually when the ball first enters play. Either during the ‘ball-up’, a kind of tip off in which the ref bounces the ball off of the ground as hard as he can and players vie for control in the air, or when it enters play from the sidelines and a player has to through it backwards over his head into the field. AFL has a small following in Victoria, but is biggest by far in Western Australia.
- And finally Soccer. Apparently officials have been trying to change to the more refined ‘football’ term that the rest of the world uses, but considering their national team is named the Soceroos, I think they have a bit of an uphill battle.
A couple of weeks back, we watched the State of Origin decider, which was some of the best footie (that’d be Rugby League) I’ve ever seen.
State of Origin is the annual best-of-three series of rugby league football matches between New South Wales and Queensland. It’s an all-star game, with players representing the Australian state in which they played their first senior rugby league, hence the name ‘state of origin’.
Not having much affiliation we chose to support our home state of New South Wales. They were definitely the underdogs, having lost the last 7 years. The nice thing about the NSW team is their colours and slogan matched our last favourite team as well. All around town you could read “Go the Blues!”
In the end, we lost, but the highlight of the series wasn’t so much the score (we all knew, deep down, that Queensland was going to win) but this guy, who decided with only minutes left in the game that he would streak 90-yards down the field, and attempt a try. He almost made it too!