is famous for being one of the most physically demanding of all the contact sports. Not only is the general gameplay fast-paced and cardiovascularly straining, but the game has been closely tied with sanctioned and unsanctioned violence since it’s birth. Players must endure almost contact physical contact with the opposing team and without any form of protection.
Most of the aggression seen in gameplay is sanctioned violence, actions that are well within the laws of gameplay where players challenge each other for possession of the ball. While they are often lenient compared to other sports, there are specific rules for physical contact.
The Tackle and Bump
The acts of tackling and bumping or shepherding are allowed and encouraged during general play. However, tackling must occur below the shoulder and above the knee. Anything above the shoulder is known as a high tackle, and anything below the knee is a low tackle or trip. These actions are penalised with a free-kick to the opposing team. If a player who possesses the ball is tackled, they must cleanly dispose of the ball, ideally directing it to a teammate, or they could risk a penalty for holding the ball.
A distinctive feature of Aussie rules, which sets it apart from most other contact sports, is the fact that the unique tactics of bumping or shepherding are legal to commit against any player, regardless of possession. In this way, the players aim to manipulate the movement of the other players, and not just the ball. While there are a few restrictions to bumping, including penalties given for contact with another player’s head or face, shirtfronting (aggressive pulling of a jersey), and pushes in the back. The AFL commission aims to encourage enthusiastic about playing such as this. Still, their goal is also to minimise serious injuries to players. While many laws are in place, most calls come down to the umpire, and their training and perceptiveness.