Countries with a history of Australian Rules and/or a developing club: Countries having an established league and/or national teams headquartered outside of Australia: Countries having at least one current club and/or national team, including players from Australia: Active leagues and national teams countries that have active clubs and/or national teams:
In addition to Australia, these are the only countries that play Australian football. The sport is popular in New Zealand where several local clubs play a form of football known as AFL New Zealand. There is also a women's version called AFLW.
Australia has had considerable success in international competition, most notably by Melbourne Football Club. The club has won the AFL Grand Final five times - the most of any club. It also won the first VFL/AFL World Championship in 1914. Since then, other Australian clubs have won the championship twice more.
The Melbourne Football Club was founded in 1859, nearly 50 years before the American NFL began playing games. The two sports share many similarities including the importance of the quarterback position and the wide receiver role. Both Australia and the United States have multiple AFL World Championships to their names; however, no Australian team has ever won the NFL Championship.
Football (or soccer) is the most popular sport in Australia. The A-League is the highest level of professional football in Australia and New Zealand, with ten teams participating.
The Australian Football Competition is the world's highest professional Australian Rules football league. The league is made up of eighteen teams: nine from Melbourne, one from rural Victoria, and eight from other Australian states. The official season runs from September to April.
There have been more than 100 games played between Australian football teams over the years. The first game was played on March 24, 1877, when Melbourne University (now known as the University of Melbourne) defeated Carlton College (now known as the University of Carlton) by three goals. The match was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (then known as the Melbourne Baseball Ground).
Australia has no national soccer team but does have several state teams (NSW Marconi Stallions, Queensland Cairns Taipans, SA Power Adelaide), as well as several regional teams (West Coast Eagles, Gold Coast Giants). There is even a second-tier club competition in the country called the NSL (National Soccer League).
Australian rules football was developed in Australia and is unique to this continent. There are also international rules football, rugby union, rugby league, and cricket, but none of them are as popular in Australia as their respective opposites.
Melbourne is the home of Australian rules football and has always had a strong competition.
Although Australian rules football is a relatively new team activity in Ireland, the country has a long history of contact with Australian rules leagues. In fact, Ireland's first major international game was played between Australia and Ireland on March 24, 1853. These days, however, it is rugby union that is popular in both countries, with AFL following close behind.
Australians have been coming to Ireland for sports since at least 1849 when Joe Hynes, an Irish-Australian who had played cricket for New South Wales, came over to compete in a race meeting near Dublin. The sport of association football was then in its infancy in Europe and Hynes is considered by many to be the father of soccer in Ireland. Since then, Australia has become one of the biggest sources of sporting exports from Ireland, with Gaelic footballers Emmet Byrne and Peter Canavan among the most successful players in their fields. In addition, several Irish people have come to Australia to play league football including John Colley, who was one of the first players to wear gloves in a match.
Today, there are almost 5,000 Australians living in Ireland, mostly in Dublin but also in other large cities such as London, Brighton, and Belfast.
The sport has increased interest and exposure in growing countries for Gaelic and Australian football, and it is seen as a development tool by both codes' governing bodies, notably the AFL Commission. There are no dedicated clubs or competitions for international rules football. Instead, representatives from overseas teams play against each other during AFL tours of those countries.
International rules football was developed in Ireland as an alternative to Gaelic football because it allowed players from both codes to compete together. The first official international rules match was played in 1889 between Ireland and England. Although rugby league had become popular in Britain at this time, it is estimated that only 1% of people involved in the game were professional players. As a result, international rules was developed with amateur players in mind. It is similar to American football in terms of size and shape of the ball, but it uses eight men to each team instead of eleven. The main difference between international rules and Gaelic football is that international rules does not have any kick-offs and scores are tallied after every play ends in a touchdown or field goal.
In Australia, international rules became popular among Irish migrants who played during visits by British teams. The first recorded match in Australia was held in Melbourne in 1896, when an English team called "The Prahran Football Club" defeated an Irish team called "St Kilda". By 1900, international rules was being played in New South Wales and Victoria.
As in the United States and Canada, association football is usually referred to as soccer in Australia. The term "football" can be used as a noun or a verb: "Let's play football."
The Australian Football League (AFL) is the premier league of Australian football. It is played during the winter months and consists of eighteen teams, including the Sydney Swans, Melbourne Demons, and West Coast Eagles. The top team wins the AFL Grand Final.
The sport was introduced to Australia by English immigrants who wanted to play a version of their own ball game. Today, most Australians are happy with what they see as a fair fight between two teams of fifteen players each. The main exception is in South Australia where cricket is popular; however, football is still widely played among young people.
In 2008, the NFL announced its intention to expand into Asia, starting with the 2009 season when the Seattle Seahawks will play against the Arizona Cardinals at Subiaco Oval in Perth, Western Australia. The NFL has not announced any other games for this series, but it is expected that more games will be added in the future.
The world's oldest football club was founded in England in 1823.