Trying New Things: How I Forgot the Six Nations and Tried Watching the Australian Football League

You may find this surprising, but every year I get really into the Six Nations with my friends. This year, though, I thought I’d try something different.

The huge fuss over the Super Bowl recently reminded me there are huge sporting events across the world. Unlike my friends and many others, I don’t follow the Six Nations because I want to be patriotic and competitive, I just find watching and learning about different sports very entertaining. Understanding the rules of various sports like rugby or American football doesn’t come naturally to me, so I like to challenge my brain to learn what a flanker does or what a Garryowen is.

Given that this is probably my 3rd year watching the Six Nations matches, I’d say I’m getting there with rugby. So I started to think, “why not give something new a try?”

The Australian Football League is so exciting. It is the professional league of Australian rules football, which is similar to American Football. It has different rules to American football, of course, including more players (18) per team. 

The kit is another key difference: the players don’t wear protection, but the sport is contact heavy: closer to rugby rather than football in the UK. Having said this, the tackling isn’t such a large focus of the game and there isn’t so much physical contact or gruesome injuries. Good for the squeamish among us!

So many goals are scored in Aussie footy, making it super fast-paced and impossible not to get excited about. Points are scored by kicking the oval-shaped ball between 4 goal posts. It’s six points for kicking it between the inner two or one point between the outer pairs – that’s called a ‘behind’.

The AFL is the biggest Australian rules football event of the season, with 18 teams in the AFL from five out of six Australian states. I decided to take a look at comparison site Oddschecker to find out about each team and understand who’s likely to finish in the top spots.

I was surprised to see how many UK betting sites are offering odds on this market! And even before the games began, I was enjoying seeing where the teams are from in the country and finding out which underdogs could take the trophy home this season.

Just in case you didn’t know, in the Six Nations, the teams are countries, so you can support England instead of a specific team. Even though it could be confusing to watch the AFL without knowing who you’re backing, for me it’s just exciting to watch something fresh and fun.

I have surprisingly found that watching a new sport inspires me all over again to get outside and play sport myself. I might not necessarily want to play AFL, but it somehow gets me hyped up to go for a run or do an exercise class.

I promised myself to try new things this year and watching a new sport has been one of them. It’s quite different from how I usually spend my spare time, but for this reason, I love it. Sometimes it’s great to switch off from work and your usual routine, try something new, learn and get inspired along the way.

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