Austus is a variation of Australian rules football which was played in Australia during World War II between Australians and visiting soldiers from the United States. The name comes from the first four letters of Australia (AUST) and the initials of the United States (US).

Sports exhibitions by servicemen from both the Australian and visiting American services were commonplace during World War II as fundraisers, including American football.[1] However, it was not possible for teams from Australia and America to play against each other in either of their national football codes due to the differences in skills: Australians were not adept at long throws of the ball, as was common in American football, and Americans were not adept at kicking, particularly on the run, as was required to play Australian rules football.

To enable football competitions between Australians and Americans, a modified code was proposed. Although sometimes described as a hybrid between the Australian and American codes, creator Ern Cowley described it as "99% Australian rules with the addition of gridiron highlights".[2] The only significant rule change was that the American football-style forward pass was allowed and afforded the same benefits as an Australian rules football kick. Therefore, a ball thrown over a distance of at least ten yards could be marked if caught on the full; and goals could be scored from throws, with the exception that a thrown goal must have been from a distance greater than twenty yards – an arc twenty yards from the goal line was painted on the field to enable this to be judged by umpires.[3] The game was played with an American football rather than an Australian football, because the pointed design of the American ball meant that it could be both thrown and kicked.[4] These rules enabled Americans to participate against Australians at Australian rules football using the ball skills they already possessed from playing American football.

The first game of Austus was played on 18 July 1943 at Punt Road Oval between a team of US Servicemen and an Australian Explosives Factory team over two 25-minute halves. The Americans won 8.4 (52) to 5.8 (38).[5] Two weeks later, an Australian team comprising around twelve VFL players comfortably defeated the Americans 17.23 (125) d. 8.1 (49) in a full-length game.[6] Several more games were played as exhibitions in 1943 and 1944. By the end of 1943, both countries' armed forces endorsed the game as a suitable activity for their troops, with the rules later published in official army publications. The US Army noted that the game was more suited to warmer climates than the American game, and was more convenient as it could be played without protective equipment.[2]

The rules are credited to The Sporting Globe sportswriter and former Carlton player Ern Cowley. Cowley and leading American player Private Bill Jost, who was a prodigious throw and captained the American teams, were both presented medals by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1944 for their services to the short-lived code.[7]

The game all but disappeared after the departure of American soldiers from Australia.[8] Some consideration was given after the war to sending Australian teams to America to demonstrate the sport, but an absence of willing financial backers meant that the idea quickly fell through.[9] The game has rarely if ever been played since.

First played1943
ContactFull contact
Team membersEighteen per side
EquipmentAmerican football
Country or regionAustralia

References and sources

  1. ^ Ern Cowley (31 March 1943). "Yankees ready for gridiron carnival". The Sporting Globe. Melbourne, VIC. p. 12.
  2. ^ a b Ern Cowley (13 November 1943). ""Austus" is now official". The Sporting Globe. Melbourne, VIC. p. 5.
  3. ^ "On play and players". The Sporting Globe. Melbourne, VIC. 21 July 1943. p. 13.
  4. ^ Ern Cowley (24 July 1943). "'Austus' and baseball on Allies' Sports Day". The Sporting Globe. Melbourne, VIC. p. 3.
  5. ^ "Football – or not?". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 19 July 1943. p. 9.
  6. ^ "Australia d. Yanks". The Age. Melbourne, VIC. 2 August 1943. p. 4.
  7. ^ "Medal for "Austus" inventor". The Argus. Melbourne, VIC. 12 July 1944. p. 11.
  8. ^ "Idle thoughts on post-war sport". Portland Guardian. Portland, VIC. 10 September 1945. p. 2.
  9. ^ AAP (21 November 1946). "Americans not keen for Aust. football tour". News. Adelaide, SA. p. 9.

External links

American football in Australia

American football, known locally as "gridiron", is a participation and spectator sport in Australia. The sport is represented by Gridiron Australia, a member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), and also Gridiron Victoria, which operates independent of Gridiron Australia The sport has been played in six Australian states and territories across the country since World War II, but has only had regular league play since 1983. There is no uniform gridiron season in Australia. The various state and territory bodies play at different times of the year. There are currently 73 junior and senior teams playing gridiron in Australia. The national team has competed in the IFAF World Cup and other international competitions.

American football has an increasing media profile in Australia. The National Football League is broadcast on both free-to-air television through 7mate and subscription television through the Fox Sports and ESPN channels available on Foxtel and Austar, including the Super Bowl live on the Seven Network. Due to interest in converts from Australian rules football and Rugby League, particularly Ben Graham, Saverio Rocca and Jarryd Hayne, the game is also regularly covered by the Herald Sun and other newspapers.

Australian rules football in the United States

Australian rules football in the United States is a fast-growing team and spectator sport which has been played domestically in the United States since 1996.

There are numerous leagues around the country, a national championship, a national men's team, a national women's team and a national youth team. There are also women's teams, junior teams, modified Australian Football games and non-contact versions such as Footy 7s.

Ern Cowley

Ern Cowley (17 August 1892 – 20 October 1975) was an Australian rules footballer who played for Carlton in the Victorian Football League (VFL).


Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called football in certain places include association football (known as soccer in some countries); gridiron football (specifically American football or Canadian football); Australian rules football; rugby football (either rugby league or rugby union); and Gaelic football. These different variations of football are known as football codes.

There are a number of references to traditional, ancient, or prehistoric ball games played by indigenous peoples in many different parts of the world. Contemporary codes of football can be traced back to the codification of these games at English public schools during the nineteenth century. The expansion of the British Empire allowed these rules of football to spread to areas of British influence outside the directly controlled Empire. By the end of the nineteenth century, distinct regional codes were already developing: Gaelic football, for example, deliberately incorporated the rules of local traditional football games in order to maintain their heritage. In 1888, The Football League was founded in England, becoming the first of many professional football competitions. During the twentieth century, several of the various kinds of football grew to become some of the most popular team sports in the world.

Gus Hetling

August Julius "Gus" Hetling (November 21, 1885 – October 13, 1962) was a professional baseball player from 1904 to 1917. He appeared in two games for the Detroit Tigers in October 1906 and played 14 years of minor league baseball, including three seasons in Springfield, Missouri (1904–06), four years in Wichita, Kansas (1907–1908, 1915–1916), and four years with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League (1911–14). After compiling more than 200 hits and a .297 batting average in 1912, he was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League.

Hybrid sport

A hybrid sport is one which combines two or more (often similar) sports in order to create a new sport, or to allow meaningful competition between players of those sports.

The most popular hybrid sport in terms of attendance and television viewers is international rules football.


Kī-o-rahi is a ball sport played in New Zealand with a small round ball called a 'kī'. It is a fast-paced game incorporating skills similar to rugby union, netball and touch. Two teams of seven players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the 'pou' (boundary markers) and hitting a central 'tupu' or target. The game is played with varying rules (e.g. number of people, size of field, tag ripping rules etc.) depending on the geographic area it is played in. A process called Tatu, before the game, determines which rules the two teams will use.

In 2005 kī-o-rahi was chosen to represent New Zealand by global fast-food chain McDonald's as part of its 'Passport to Play' programme to teach physical play activities in 31,000 American schools.

The programme will give instruction in 15 ethnic games to seven million primary school children.The New Zealand kī-o-rahi representative organisation, Kī-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, formed with men's and women's national teams, completed a 14 match tour of Europe in September and October 2010. The men's team included 22-test All Black veteran Wayne Shelford who led the team to a 57–10 test win against Kī-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation, the French Kī-o-Rahi federation.

Shelford's kī-o-rahi test jersey made him the first kī-o-rahi/rugby double international for NZ. The women's team coached by Andrea Cameron (Head of PE at Tikipunga High School) also won by 33–0. These were the first historic test matches between NZ and France.

List of sports

The following is a list of sports/games, divided by category.

According to the World Sports Encyclopedia (2003), there are 8,000 indigenous sports and sporting games.

List of types of football

This is a list of various types of football, most variations found as gridiron, rugby, association football.

Quidditch (sport)

Quidditch is a sport of two teams of seven players each mounted on broomsticks played on a hockey rink-sized pitch. It is based on a fictional game of the same name invented by author J. K. Rowling, which is featured in the Harry Potter series of novels and related media.[3] The game is also sometimes referred to as muggle quidditch to distinguish it from the fictional game, which involves magical elements such as flying broomsticks and enchanted balls. In the Harry Potter universe, a "muggle" is a person without the power to use magic.

The pitch is rectangular with rounded corners 55 meters (60 yards) by 33 meters (36 yards) with three hoops of varying heights at either end.[4] The sport was created in 2005 and is therefore still quite young. However, quidditch is played around the world and actively growing.[5] The ultimate goal is to have more points than the other team by the time the snitch, a tennis ball inside a long sock hanging from the shorts of an impartial official dressed in yellow, is caught. Rules of the sport are governed by the International Quidditch Association, or the IQA, and events are sanctioned by either the IQA or that nation's governing body.

To score points, chasers or keepers must get the quaffle, a slightly deflated volleyball, into one of three of the opposing hoops which scores the team 10 points.[6] To impede the quaffle from advancing down the pitch, chasers and keepers are able to tackle opposing chasers and keepers at the same time as beaters using their bludgers—dodgeballs—to take out opposing players. Once a player is hit by an opposing bludger, that player must dismount their broom, drop any ball being held, and return to and touch their hoops before being allowed back into play.[7] The game is ended once the snitch is caught by one of the seekers, awarding that team 30 points.[8]A team consists of minimum seven (maximum 21) players, of which six are always on the pitch, those being the three chasers, one keeper, and two beaters. Besides the seeker who is off-pitch, the six players are required to abide by the gender rule, which states that a team may have a maximum of four players who identify as the same gender, making quidditch one of the few sports that not only offers a co-ed environment but an open community to those who do not identify with the gender binary.[10] Matches or games often run about 30 to 40 minutes but tend to be subject to varying lengths of time due to the unpredictable nature of the snitch catch. If the score at the end of the match including the 30 point snitch catch is tied (such that the team that caught the snitch was 30 points behind the other), the game moves to overtime where the snitch is constrained to the pitch's dimensions and the game ends after five minutes or when the snitch is legally caught.

USA Footy

USA Footy is a division of Australian Football International.

Variations of Australian rules football

Variations of Australian rules football are games or activities based on or similar to the game of Australian rules football, in which the player uses common Australian rules football skills. They range in player numbers from 2 (in the case of kick-to-kick) up to the minimum 38 required for a full Australian rules football.

Some are essentially identical to Australian rules football, with only minor rule changes, while others are more distant and arguably not simple variations but distinct games. Others still have adapted to the unavailability of full-sized cricket fields. Other variations include children's games, contests or activities intended to help the player practice or reinforce skills, which may or may not have a competitive aspect.

Most of the variations are played in informal settings, without the presence of umpires and sometimes without strict adherence to official game rules.

Basket sports
Football codes
Bat-and-ball games
Stick and ball sports
Net sports
Other sports

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