Australian Rules Football is unique in many ways. In addition to its status as Australia’s national game, it is, as far as I can surmise, the only sport in existence in which the ball and the field share the same shape: oval.
Australian football looks foreign to most non-Australian sports enthusiasts and its origins remain the subject of dispute. Most likely, our sport developed as a hybrid of English football and rugby, designed by cricketers in Melbourne as a pastime to occupy the winter months. The game also exhibits the influence of a game played by indigenous Australians with a ball made of kangaroo skin. The game is different to the usual in that handballing is encouraged – players can use any part of their body to move the ball.
Australian Rules Football at Oxford has a long and distinguished history through the Oxford University Australian Rules Football Club (OUARFC). We have won 8 of the past 10 varsity matches and our club celebrates its 90th varsity match this year (the first having been played by World War 1 veterans returning to study in England).
Through our partnership with the sports federation the club has taken its professionalism to new levels in recent years and were able to purchase new goal posts in 2009. A relatively large club by Oxford standards, with membership numbering between 50 and 60 players, we represent a range of nationalities, including Canadians, New Zealanders, Irish (whose familiarity with Gaelic football makes them well suited), Swedish, British and, of course, plenty of Australians.