The Roar
The Roar


Backyard Australian Rules Football: Official laws of the game

Former Australian rules footballer Warwick Capper poses for a photograph near his home on Surfers Paradise beach, Monday, March 2, 2009. The former Brisbane Bears and Sydney Swans full forward is looking to contest the seat of Beaudesert, running against fellow independent Pauline Hanson on March 21. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
15th September, 2016

Section 1 – Playing Field

  1. The Playing Field used shall be dependent on the number of players available to play and the Laws of the Game shall vary in accordance with both the size of the playing field and the number of players.
  2. It is therefore incumbent upon all potential participants to maintain their backyard to the highest possible standard so that should their backyard be deemed to be the optimal field size, it can be immediately played on without need for last-minute maintenance.
  3. As standard playing footware is bare feet, lawns should be free of clover, bindiis, other broadleaf weeds and other impediments to play. This is SERIOUS! Injury from lawn-related flora shall always be considered soft, and is not an excuse for a player or players to discontinue the game.

Section 2 – Form of the Game

  1. If there are two (2) players available to play, the game shall take the form of Kick To Kick, in which the players kick the ball back and forth to one another. This may be played in a backyard of any size.
  2. If there are three (3) players available to play, the game shall take the form of Keepings Off, in which two players kick the ball back and forth to one another, in such a manner that the third player is excluded from participating until he or she is able to intercept the ball, at which time the kicker at fault takes their place. The backyard size should be sufficiently large to engender genuine frustration in the Excluded Player.
  3. If there are four (4) or more players available to play, the game shall take the form of Marks Up (aka Markers Up), in which one player shall kick the ball to the remainder of the players who shall attempt to mark the ball in as spectacular a fashion as possible. The backyard size should be sufficiently large to maximise the opportunity for such speckies.
  4. Should the backyard be very large and clear of obstacles and scrub that may cause injuries, then a Park Rules version of the game may be played. The owner of the backyard shall receive plaudits for his excellent lawn maintenance.

Section 3 – Player Selection

  1. In a game of Kick To Kick between two players, the player with the more wayward kicking history shall be positioned to kick away from:
    i) windows
    ii) neighbour fences
    iii) parked cars
    iv) the swimming pool (although an exception to 3.1 iv) may apply on an unexpectedly hot day)
  2. In a game of Keepings Off, the third (Excluded) player shall be the person who arrived late to join in on the Kick to Kick. Should all three players start the game at the same time, the Excluded Player shall be selected in the following fashion:
    i) if there is a Collingwood supporter, they shall be the Excluded Player. (Note: if there are multiple Collingwood supporters, players should take steps to ensure they haven’t fallen into a backwards mirror dimension where right is wrong, good is evil and Eddie McGuire is respected.)
    ii) if there are no Collingwood supporters, then the Excluded Player shall be the supporter of an interstate team. If there are multiple supporters of interstate teams, the player who supports the most recently admitted team into the AFL shall be excluded.
    iii) if there are no interstate team supporters, then the Excluded Player shall be chosen by some other ostracising means as deemed appropriate.
  3. In a game of Marks Up, the initial kicker shall be the person who owns the ball.
  4. In a game of Park Rules, teams shall be initially split based upon the supporter gear they’re wearing. Adjustments to teams shall then be made taking into consideration:
    i) team numbers
    ii) player ability
    iii) levels of intoxication

Section 4 – The Ball

  1. The ball used in play shall be appropriate for the form of the game and the size of the backyard.
  2. In a smaller backyard, the standard Sherrin brand of football shall be replaced by a mini-football made of lighter material to minimise the chances of exuberant over-kicking into the neighbours’ yards or total elimination of the garden bed

Section 5 – Scoring

  1. No official scoring shall take place in games of Kick To Kick, Keepings Off or Marks Up, although the best player shall be determined by a general vibe of who took the best marks, kicked the most accurately and/or most frustrated the Excluded Player.
  2. In a game of Park Rules, one (1) point shall be awarded for a successful kick between agreed upon goal posts.
  3. Goal posts may take the form of:
    i) pairs of nearby trees, shrubs or otherwise fixed plant life
    ii) a garage or shed door
    iii) a set of well-positioned cricket stumps
    iv) chalk markings on a wal
    v) Two rolled up jumpers on the ground (t-shirts from participating players are also deemed acceptable)
  4. If there are sufficient trees, stumps or chalk to also form a set of behind posts, then the value of a goal shall be increased to six (6) points, with kicks between goal posts and behind posts being awarded one (1) point.
  5. In a Park Rules game that includes behinds, no player shall bother to keep consistent track of the score, and the game shall end in confusion over who won, or solved by the yard owners call of ‘last goal wins’

Section 6 – Marking The Ball

  1. In all forms of the game, players should seek to take spectacular marks at every opportunity.
  2. A sufficiently high-quality speckie shall be accompanied by a cry of ‘CAPPER!’, regardless of the age of the player or whether they ever saw Warwick Capper play the game. Young players shall be encouraged to watch YouTube footage if necessary, although parents should first screen the clip in question in order to assess the level of offensiveness attained by his shorts.
  3. In a game of Marks Up, the player who takes the mark shall become the new kicker.

Section 7 – Tackling and Releasing The Ball

  1. In a game of Marks Up or Park Rules, should the mark not be taken then players shall scramble for the ball.
  2. Any player with the ball may be tackled.
  3. If the tackled player does not release the ball, then there shall be a cry of ‘Stacks On!’ and everybody shall jump on the player with the ball.

Section 8 – Trees

  1. If a ball is kicked into a tree and remains stuck there, then the ball shall be retrieved by throwing shoes, rocks and other small objects at the stuck ball.
  2. Should the ball remain stuck, players may switch to throwing shoes, rocks and other small objects at the player who kicked the ball into the tree.
  3. As a last resort, the owner of the backyard shall use a ladder to retrieve the ball. The owner of the backyard should also have a long hard look at himself and the yard to determine if proper pruning and maintenance of his trees might have prevented the situation.


  1. Any extremely minor indiscretion of the above Laws may be accompanied by a cry of ‘Free Kick, Hawthorn!’, especially if that annoys ultra-sensitive Hawthorn supporters.
  2. Visitors from non-AFL states may be permitted to play but only if they prove that they understand, as a bare minimum, that there are two Gary Abletts and not just one player who has played top-level Australian Rules football for 35 years or so.

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