Footy ball

Mums moving to Australia, particularly mums with boys, will need to get up to speed with Australian football events and terminology. This time last year I remember switching the TV on to be told that it’s Finals Week and thinking, “Wasn’t it finals week last week?” It felt like Australian football teams had been playing finals for weeks. They had.

I’m more familiar with the UK Football League and the culmination of the season being based on points and league tables rather than a final series of play offs. This year I’m a little more knowledgeable about Australian football. Firstly because my eldest son is obsessed and secondly because I’ve met some lovely Australian mums who are even more obsessed!

Love soccer

Before proceeding we should be clear about the first thing British mums need to do when they arrive in Australia: stop calling the type of football that David Beckham plays football, it’s soccer down under. Once this is firmly established in your vocabulary you can start getting to grips with Australian football.

Learn footy

When Australians talk about football they are typically referring to NRL (National Rugby League) or AFL (Australian Football League – also called Aussie Rules). In fact Australians rarely say football, you know they love abbreviations; you are far more likely to hear the term ‘footy’.

Depending where you live and where the person is from that you’re talking to, you’ll need to work out which footy they mean. AFL is huge in Victoria, if people talk about footy is usually AFL. On the other hand, in NSW and QLD NRL is more popular than AFL so footy usually refers to rugby league. What about the other states or territories? Good luck!

It might help to know that more states \ territories are involved in the AFL finals (VIC, SA, WA, NSW and QLD). The dominant states involved in the NRL finals are NSW and QLD with a few teams from ACT, VIC and New Zealand.

Enjoy the finals

The footy finals enjoyed throughout Australia at this time of year are the premiership league finals for both the AFL and NRL. The AFL and NRL seasons run from March to September, points awarded during the season determine a team’s place in the premiership league table or ladder. Currently, in both the AFL and NRL the top eight teams in the ladder go through to the final series play offs.

A more detailed explanation of the AFL league ladder is provided here, you’ll also find an explanation of the placement of teams who win and lose their matches during the finals series.

The eight teams in the NRL playoffs follow the McIntyre System of elimination until two teams enter the Grand Finals. Read more about the McIntyre System here. Wikipedia have an excellent explanation of the 2011 league fixtures and playoffs; available here.

Unlike soccer in the UK, teams in the AFL and NRL premierships don’t automatically get relegated if they’re at the bottom of the ladder, or promoted into the premiership from other divisions.

Membership in the NRL premiership league is based on a number of factors including a club’s size and the quality of their grounds, the number of supporters and key financial criteria. To join the premiership new clubs make a bid to the NRL executive body. This year there are 16 teams in the NRL premiership league.

Membership to the AFL premiership works on a similar basis, and like NRL, many of the teams in the league simply date back to the early days of the sport in Australia. This year 17 teams played in the AFL premiership league. Both AFL and NRL are likely to expand next year.

Who are you backing?

In case you’ve manage to avoid media coverage of the AFL and NRL grand final events, which we doubt…

The AFL grand final will be played between Collingwood (VIC) and Geelong (VIC) on Saturday 1st October at 2:30pm at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The NRL grand final will be played between Manly Sea Eagles (NSW) and the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday 2nd October at 5:15pm at the ANZ Stadium, Sydney.

Although final team decisions and player injuries are still being hotly discussed, Collingwood are the favourites to win the AFL grand final and Manly are the favourites to win the NRL grand final. Who are you backing or supporting?

We hope you enjoyed our mums’ guide to footy in Australia, perhaps you can surprise and impress your children or other half with your knowledge. Special thanks to Bree for answering my goofy questions about footy!

If anyone has outstanding questions or wants to share footy experiences in Australia please leave a comment below. Thank you.

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