The match rules are designed to provide a compromise between those of the two codes, with Gaelic Football players being advantaged by the use of a round ball, while the Australian Football players benefit from the opportunity to tackle between the shoulders and knees, something banned in Gaelic football.
The game also introduces the concept of the mark, from Australian Football, with a free kick awarded for a ball caught from a kick of over 15 metres, where the kick must be in the forward direction if originating from a teammate.
A player must bounce, solo or touch the ball on the ground once every 15 metres. A maximum of two bounces or solos per possession are allowed. Unlike in Gaelic football, the ball may be lifted directly off the ground, without putting a foot underneath it first. Players however cannot scoop the ball off the ground to a team-mate, nor pick up the ball if they are on their knees or on the ground.
If a foul is committed, a free kick will be awarded, referees (called umpires in Australian Football) can give the fouled player advantage to play on at their discretion.
1. Playing Field
The AFI International Rules Cup will be played on a traditional Australian football oval.
2. The Ball
A regulation Gaelic football shall be used.
3. Match Duration
A game lasts 80 minutes, comprising 4 x 20 minute quarters. There are 5 minute intervals at the end of the first and third quarters and a 15 minute break at half-time.
Each team has 18 players on the field. There are 6 defenders, 6 forwards, 5 midfielders and a goalkeeper, plus a maximum of 4 interchange players.
5. Match Officials
Each match shall be under the control of two referees.
Two linesmen, one on each side of the field, shall indicate when and where the ball has gone out of play over the boundary line.
Goal Umpires, two at each end, shall indicate to referees when a score has been registered or when the ball has gone out of play.
At either end of the ground are two point posts and two goal posts with a crossbar and soccer-style net between the goal posts.
A goal (worth 6 points) is scored when the ball is kicked or knocked (not handpassed) into the net.
An over (3 points) is scored when the ball goes over the crossbar but between the goal posts.
A behind (1 point) is scored when the ball is kicked or directed between the goal and point posts.
If the ball bounces back into play after hitting any of the four posts or the crossbar, play-on is called. A goalkeeper protects the goal area.
One of the players of each team shall be designated as goalkeeper and shall wear a distinctive jumper of a colour different from that worn by the two teams.
The goalkeeper shall not be charged, checked, challenged or tackled inside goal square.
The goalkeeper may be tackled when in possession of the ball outside the goal square.
8. Out of Bounds
There are no boundary throw-ins. When a ball goes out of play, a free kick is awarded (as in soccer) against the team that last touched the ball. The opposition can either kick or handpass the ball back into play.
9. Start of Play
Only five players per team are allowed in the centre area for the start of play.
To commence each quarter, and after a goal (6 points) is scored, a referee shall, at centre-field, throw the ball above the heads of two players from each team.
All other players shall remain outside the centre square, until the ball is in play.
10. Restarting Play
When the ball is driven wide of the goal posts and over the boundary line by the attacking side, it shall be kicked into play from the goal square by the goalkeeper or defender.
After an over (3 points) or a behind (1 point) has been scored, the ball shall be kicked into play by the goalkeeper or defender from the 20 metre line.
While the ball is being kicked into play, all players, other than the player taking the kick and the goalkeeper, shall remain outside the 20m line.
11. Ball on Ground
A player on the ground or on his knees may not pick up the ball or drag it back under him. If he does, he will have a free kick awarded against him. When in this position, a player can only knock the ball on. This ensures continuous, fast-moving play.
12. Bouncing & Solos
A player must solo or bounce or touch the ball on the ground. Players are allowed a maximum of two bounces or solos.
Attacking players may not enter the goal square before the ball.
14. Ball Disposal
The ball may be kicked or handballed. The ball must travel a minimum of 15 metres to be awarded a mark. A player may not handpass and retrieve the ball.
Tackling an opponent above the knees and below the shoulders is permitted. Sling tackling is not allowed.
Side (shoulder) bumps are allowed provided neither player is airborne. Shirtfronts are not permitted. Shepherds are permitted.
Players can be interchanged at any time during the game. Players must leave and enter the field through the designated interchange area.
Each team shall be allowed one official runner, who may run onto the field of play, to make team changes, or deliver instructions.
19. Penalty Kick
If a penalty kick is awarded it shall be taken from the centre point of the top of the goal square and all players other than the defending goalkeeper and the player taking the kick shall be positioned 5 metres behind the player taking the kick.
A penalty kick must be taken from the penalty spot. The player may place the ball on the ground or take the kick out of his hands.
20. Order-off Rule
A referee can send off any player for a period of 10 minutes (yellow card) or for the remainder of the game (red card) depending on the incident and severity of it. Players cannot be replaced and a red card also results in a penalty kick.