11 March 2022

The Similarities And Differences Between AFL And Gaelic Football

Although they are two different sports with different rules, the two codes do have some things in common. So much so that the games have intertwined with the International Rules Series being created in 1967. This was just after Australia sent some of the best Australian Rules Football players at the time to Ireland to play against their local teams. The league still exists to this day and it is interesting to see what the differences and similarities are of each sport.


First of all, the size and shape of the ball used is different in the two sports. The Gaelic code uses a round ball, while the Australian code uses an oval-shaped ball and the goalposts are also different. Australian rules have four posts; two main posts and a smaller post on each side. If you kick the ball in between the side post and the main post you score one point, known as a behind. If you kick the ball between the two main posts you get 6 points, a goal.

Gaelic football has two main posts with a soccer-like net at the bottom. If you kick over the crossbar, you receive one point and if you kick into the main goal you gain three points. You can fist the ball over the crossbar and earn a point but with the Australian rules game you earn nothing by doing this, the points must be earned by kicking the ball through the goals.

Gaelic football also has a goalkeeper to guard the goal, while Australian rules do not. Instead, they have players on the field whose job is to defend the goal. The main defender is called a Full Back, while the players to the left and right of him are called Back Pockets.

The AFL Premiership odds can change dramatically based on the results of games played against the Irish. This is because the best of the best of Australian Rules Football players take part against the Irish and both countries have effective players in their respective sports and each put each other’s skills to the test.


The similar inherent nature of both codes is apparent in certain aspects. Unlike soccer, both sports allow the player to use their hands. Players in both leagues can either kick or handpass the ball around the field. The width of the goal (6.4 meters) is the same in both codes. The ball is contested at the start of the game, tackling to various degrees is allowed, and the ball can be kicked far on the field to gain an upper hand in potentially scoring a goal. Both countries also strived to create a game differentiated from classic English sports such as soccer and rugby.

There has been much debate over the years as to which code was the predecessor and who was the follower. It was speculated in the early 20th century that Australian Rules Football must have come from Gaelic Football simply because Ireland is older than Australia. This has been debunked, however, and it seems that Australian Rules may be a precursor to Gaelic football, based on research by historians and the fact that Australian Rules Football was played decades before Gaelic Football. Either way, both codes are fun to watch and it is good to see two different countries come together and create an international sport that they can both enjoy.

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