As in New Zealand and the U.S., Australia has a variety of its own unique sports. While we were in Australia, we had the chance to view the two ‘super bowl’esque championships: the AFL (Aussie Rules Football) and the NRL (National Rugby League). These sports are quite different from any others of their kind. Aussie Rules Football is a game in which a small ball (sort of like a cross between a football and a rugby ball but smaller) is run from either end of the field (200 meters long, wow that’s quite a run) and is kicked in between two goal posts. The smaller one gives your team six points and the larger gives your team one point. The oddities of this game are many. The field is shaped like a giant oval. You can never throw the ball; it must be either punted or punched. Seriously, you have to punch the ball with your fist). The refs perform quite hilarious hand gestures (look at the pics to see more). The game that we watched pitted the reigning champs, the Sydney Swans, against the team they beat in the finals last year, the West Coast Eagles. It was the second game I watched, and I thought I had a pretty good idea of the rules. I was pulling for Sydney while dad and McKane were hoping that the Eagles would come out on top. The game started off and Sydney scored the first point. Soon the Eagles had marched back and scored enough to put them in a lead of over fifteen points. McKane continually shouted, “Go Storm! Yeah, baby! I knew they were called the Eagles, the storming eagles! Yeah baby!” throughout the duration of the game. Sydney managed to cut a deficit of over 25 points to get within 1 point of the Eagles. After a stunning three minutes of final play, the Eagles came out on top by one point. The score was 84 to 85. McKane screamed as loud as he possibly could “Yeah baby! Storm won! I mean Eagles, Storming Eagles! Yeah baby!” He had to have said ‘Yeah baby!’ at least two hundred times during the game.
The next night was the National Rugby Leagues final. Now don’t get this confused with REAL rugby like the one I viewed in New Zealand. This is a somewhat distorted Aussie version, with fewer tackles, wimpier scrums, and no rucks. If you don’t know what those mean, don’t sweat it, you’re probably American. This game was the Melbourne Storm versus the Brisbane Broncos. The game was fast paced but I sort of ummm…. fell asleep during some of it and woke up near the middle. Brisbane was ahead but seemed to be running out of energy. They were moving very slowly and allowing Melbourne to get very close to the scoring line, but holding strong. Brisbane managed to maintain their lead and smashed the remaining Melbourne opposition until the final minutes. Soon Melbourne had another chance but lost it. Brisbane would come out on top with their first championship since 2000.
These games were very entertaining. If you happen to be in Australia during the spring, you should watch some of these games. They will give you a good time and something to talk about with the locals. If you come in the summer, I feel sorry for you. You’ll have to watch cricket.