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Aussie Rules Football: How does it work and who are the favourites?

Odds and preview ahead of the new AFL season

The new Aussie Rules season kicks off this week and with sport in short supply at the moment, why not take the opportunity to get into something new?

The world’s oldest code of football, Aussie Rules is by far and away the most popular sport down under, both in terms of spectatorship and participation.

In fact, it has the fourth-highest average attendance of any domestic sports league in the world.

The Australian Football League remains Australia’s only professional Aussie Rules competition, having been founded in 1896 as the Victorian Football League.

And with the latest edition set to kick-off this week, here’s everything you need to know about the sport.

How does it work?

AFL Aussie Rules generic view

Played on a huge oval-shaped pitch, Aussie Rules pits two 18-man teams against each other and, as with any sport, the ultimate aim is to outscore the opposition.

Players score by kicking an egg-shaped ball between four posts. The middle two posts are worth six points, while hitting a post or putting the ball through the outer posts is worth just one point and is known as a behind.

The ball can be run towards the goal but must be bounced every 16 yards. Otherwise players can move the ball by passing it, kicking it or using a handball, which is the method of punching it forward with your fist, similar to volleyball.

The sport is famously aggressive and players are allowed to use their opponents as a springboard in order to jump higher in order to catch the ball.

There are also no rules about how hard players can tackle, as long as it takes place between the shoulders and the knees.

Aussie Rules games last for 80 minutes, split into four quarters, but there can be as much as 10 minutes of additional time.

The AFL consists of 18 teams and at the end of the season the top eight teams qualify for the finals series, which is a knockout competition to reach the Grand Final.

The Grand Final is the biggest day in the sport’s calendar and is the Australian equivalent of the Super Bowl, played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Who are the 2020 favourites?

As it stands, all matches will be played behind closed doors as a coronavirus precaution and a meeting is set to take place this week to determine whether the season will go ahead.

Richmond were crowned champions in 2019 and they’re the clear favourites to retain their crown, which would be their third in the last four seasons.

Despite finishing just sixth in the final standings, they won their final 12 games of the season and beat Greater Western Sydney by a stunning 89 points in the Grand Final.

The Tigers kick-off the new campaign against Carlton Blues on Thursday and our traders have them priced at 2/7 to start the season with a win.

Greater Western Sydney will also be in contention following their Grand Final defeat last season.

The Giants have lost Tim Taranto to a shoulder problem during pre-season but they’ll have a much stronger squad this time around having been ravaged by injuries in 2019.

They kick off their campaign against Geelong Cats, who finished top last term, and they’re going at 8/15 to get started in style.

Anything can happen between now and the end of the season and if the games do go ahead as scheduled, expect West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs to be challenging near the top as well.

View the latest Aussie Rules odds.

All odds and markets are correct as of date of publication