- The coronavirus pandemic has brought most sports across the world to halt.
- However, in the far corner of the globe, one of the world's most brutal and bizarre is still going strong — Australian Rules Football.
- Aussie Rules, as it is known, is unlike pretty much any other sport on the planet. Think rugby union meets American football meets Quidditch, but without the pads and the brooms.
- Read on to find out about the sport, its best players and teams, as well as how, when, and why you should watch it.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought most sports across the world to halt.
However, in the furthest corner of the globe, one of the world's most brutal and bizarre is still going strong — Australian rules football.
Aussie rules, as it is known, is unlike pretty much any other sport on the planet. Think rugby union meets American football meets Quidditch, but without the pads and the brooms.
Founded in 1857, the game was initially invented to help the country's cricketers keep fit during the winter, according to Dscribe.
Today however, the sport is Australia's most popular, and attract crowds of up to 120,000. According to the Australian Football League (AFL), it is the fourth most watched spectator sport in the world.
Read below to find out the sport it played, who are its best teams and players, as well as how, when, and why you should watch it.
So what are the rules of Aussie Rules?
Played on a huge oval shaped pitch, Aussie Rules sees two teams of 18 players go against each other for 80 minutes to see who can score the most points.
Points are scored by kicking the ball through the two large upright posts at each end of the field. Doing this scores a team six points.
Outside the main posts are two sets of smaller posts. Hitting one of the larger posts, or kicking it through the smaller posts, is worth only one point.
Players can move the oval shaped ball around the pitch in three ways. Firstly, they can run with it, but a bit like basketball, they must bounce it every 16 yards. Secondly, they can "punch" the ball forward using their fists, which is known as a handball.
Lastly, and most commonly, players can kick the ball.
If a player kicks the ball to another teammate from over 15 yards away and he catches it, it is called a "mark." From here, the team can either continue to try and get closer to the posts, or take a shot at goal.
Among the sport's more bizarre rules and customs is that every game is started by the referee hurling the ball into the ground in the centre of the pitch, before both teams attempt to get possession.
Here's what the posts look like in an Aussie rules game.
How is the league formatted?
There are 18 teams in the Australian Football League (AFL). The AFL is the world's only professional Aussie Rules league.
Each side plays 22 games per regular season, with a win earning them four points, and a draw two. After the regular season is done, the top eight teams then progress to the finals, which act as a knock-out competition until two teams meet in the "Grand Final."
The winner of that game is then crowned the AFL champion.
Who are the top teams?
The most successful of teams in AFL history are the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues, which have both won six Premiership titles each, however neither have won a title since 2000 and 1995 respectively.
The most recent AFL champion is the Richmond Tigers. The Tigers beat the Great Western Sydney (GWS) Giants in the Premiership final in front of over 100,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground back in September.
Richmond dominated GWS 114 points to 25 to win its 12th ever title.
Who are the top players?
Like any sport, picking the best players is subjective.
That being said, at the end of each year, the AFL Players Association votes for a Most Valuable Player, who is handed the Leigh Matthews Trophy. Leigh Matthews was the inaugural MVP winner in 1982.
2019's winner was Patrick Cripps of the Carlton Blues, while in 2018, it was awarded to Tom Mitchell of the Hawthorn Hawks.
The player to win the most ever MVP awards is Gary Ablett Jr., with five, three more than any other player. Ablett (pictured above) currently plays for the Geelong Cats.
An award, known as the Coleman Medal, is also handed to the division's top scorer each season. A panel also selects a team of the 22 best players, known as the "All-Australian team."
Why is it worth watching?
If you like big hits, lots of goals, and plenty of action, then Aussie Rules might just be the sport for you.
Think rugby union meets American football meets Quidditch, but without the pads and the brooms.
"Endurance, strength, power, balance, speed, agility and flexibility – there isn't many qualities that an AFL player doesn't demonstrate," reads an article from Australian journalist Natalee Keer in Dscribe.
"AFL demonstrates athleticism at its elite peak and is a truly exciting game that brings people of all walks of life together."
So can I still watch it?
Yes, matches are still being broadcast on Channel Seven, Foxtel, and Telstra. They can also be viewed live from around the world on the AFL website.
However, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league's structure will be slightly different than previously explained.
Teams will only play a maximum of 17 games each for the 2020 season, all of which will be played behind closed doors until the Australian government's restriction on mass public gatherings is lifted.
Matches will also only be only 64 minutes long rather than 80, so that teams can play more regularly to work around a schedule that is likely to change.
The first match was played on March 19 in which the Tigers beat the Blues 105-81.
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