History of Australian Rules Football

Australian Rules Football

It is well known that football is one of the oldest team games played throughout the world. It seems like there is something fascinating in the ball itself that it makes so many men run behind it. Over the years, football has evolved into many different versions. Today we have American football that is also known as Rugby, then there is Soccer and then we have Australian Rules Football. In this article we will trace back the history and origins of Australian Rules Football.


  • Origins in British and Irish Folk Football:

The historical accounts regarding the origins of Australian Rules Football are covered in the sands of time and no one knows exactly how it evolved into what it is today. But the earliest documented events show that it must have started to gain popularity as early as 1800. Some people believed that Australian Rules Football evolved from Gaelic Football, but this was just a myth. Later on it was found that the Australian version of football evolved from British and Irish Folk Football.

  • Relation to cricket:

One thing is sure, the Australian Version of Football evolved as a result of European Colonization. There are many theories supporting this fact but the most promising evidence is a letter from the Victorian Cricketer Tom Wills. On July 10th 1858, a sports journal published this letter from Tom Wills. In this letter, he clearly pointed out the need for a modified version of Soccer to keep the professional English Cricketers fit and ready for the games in the cold winter seasons. Many experts and historians believe that this letter sparked the idea of an alternate version of football.

  • Earliest Documented Match of Australian Rules Football:

The first match of a very fundamental and uninvolved version of Australian football was played on July 1st, 1856. This match was played on the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Since the match was played on a Cricket ground, authorities didn’t gave permission for digging the ground in order to plant the goal posts. As a result, trees were used as goal posts. This match lacked any codified set of rules and was played without any properly established laws of the game. Media reports from that day suggests that the teams consisted of players from different countries and in the absence of a well defined set of rules, each player played the game according to his own rules. Such a game play led to many fights and as a result the game lasted from 1PM to 8PM.

  • Popularity of Australian Rules Football:

Today, this Australian version of football has evolved into an extremely popular sport with well defined set of rules and laws governing the game. It is a fact that this game is played in over 50 countries around the world. In the last Euro Cup, 20 countries participated in the event and the International World Cup saw teams from 22 countries competing for the title of World Champions. It is extremely popular in Australia, North America, Europe and Asia.