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    September 14, 2023 3 min read

    In Australian rules football, the role of the AFL & AFLW Ruck is pivotal, defining the game's dynamics during centre bounces, stoppages, and boundary throw-ins. This article explores the multifaceted world of AFL Ruck, delving into their roles, playing styles, strategic importance, and historical evolution.

    With the evolution of the Women's game, the term Ruckman is no longer inclusive and the term is now Ruck.

    The Essential Role of the AFL Ruck

    AFL Ruck are tall, athletic players known for their exceptional vertical leap and ball-handling skills. They play a central role in coaching strategies, particularly in winning centre clearances, which often lead to goal-scoring opportunities.

    AFL Ruck vs. Other Sports

    Comparatively, AFL Rucks are akin to locks in rugby union's line-outs. However, the primary distinction lies in the method of ball delivery. In AFL, the ball is thrown straight up high into the air, similar to a basketball centre. Rucks rely on their vertical leap and compete in mid-air collisions, making it a physically demanding position.

    Control and Precision

    AFL Ruck must master the art of controlling the ball through palm taps or fists with outstretched arms. They collaborate with on-ballers to pre-determine tap directions, optimising team advantage.

    Physical Demands and Protective Gear

    Rucking is physically demanding, requiring peak fitness and enduring body contact. Due to these rigorous demands, many Ruck develop larger physiques to prevent injuries. They often wear protective thigh and shin padding, distinguishing them from players in other positions.

    Ruck Styles

    AFL Ruck exhibit diverse playing styles, adapting based on strategy, opponent, and physical attributes. Three primary styles include:

    1. Tap Ruck (Palm Ruck): Skillful and high-jumping, these Ruck expertly palm the ball to their team's advantage. Examples include Polly Farmer and Aaron Sandilands.

    2. Mobile Ruck (Mobile Bigman): These Ruck cover extensive ground, possessing high leaps and athletic endurance. Jim Stynes is a notable example.

    3. Heavy Ruck (Thump Ruck): These physical Ruck use brute force to dominate opponents and punch the ball forward. Common in earlier eras, this style is rarer today.

    Strategic Roles

    Coaches employ Ruck strategically, using them for attacking and defensive purposes:

    Attacking Strategies:

    • Ruck as a Target during Kick-Ins
    • "Bring the Ball to Ground" Strategy

    Defensive Strategies:

    • Goal Square Protection

    Ruck History and Rules

    The concept of "ruck" has been integral to Australian rules football since the 1870s, evolving over time. Recent rule changes in the AFL have influenced the style and effectiveness of Ruck.

    Modern Rucks

    Today, AFL boasts a new generation of talented Ruck, including Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy, Nic Naitanui. Aaron Sandilands, at 211 cm (6'11"), stands was one of the game's most dominant figures.

    Recruiting Trends

    Clubs increasingly scout non-traditional sources for tall Ruck prospects, including basketball and other sports. This innovative approach has yielded some remarkable success stories like Mason Cox.

    Innovative Game Changer: Impact Armour's Mouldable Shin Guards for Rucks

    In 2022, a groundbreaking innovation emerged in the AFL & AFLW world with Impact Armour's Mouldable Shin Guards. These state-of-the-art shin guards were introduced, revolutionising the way Rucks protect themselves on the field. Importantly, these shin guards are approved for use by Rucks in the AFL. Instead of tape, they're fixed to the leg with an innovative compression sleeve

    Impact Armour's Mouldable Shin Guards are a game changer. Designed to provide maximum protection, these shin guards can be custom-moulded to fit the unique contours of each player's legs. This innovation ensures that Rucks can confidently engage in mid-air collisions and physical battles, knowing they have the best protection available.

    AFL Ruck Shin Guards

    In conclusion, AFL Ruck play a critical role in shaping the game's outcome. Their diverse styles, strategic importance, and historical evolution continue to captivate fans and influence team strategies. Understanding the significance of the AFL Ruck adds depth to the appreciation of this dynamic sport, and innovations like Impact Armour's Mouldable Shin Guards pave the way for safer and more formidable Ruck play in the AFL.