What Are the Most Popular Sports in Australia?

What Are the Most Popular Sports in Australia?

Australia has a varied and lively sporting scene that reflects the diversity of its population.  Australian Rules Football dominates the sporting landscape with its rugged intensity, while tennis on pristine courts showcases refined grace. Australians take great pleasure in diverse sports, finding joy, passion, and camaraderie in each. This article explores the most popular sports in Australia.

Horse Racing

Horse racing is very popular, with events like Melbourne Cup Day and the Golden Slipper drawing huge crowds. In the 2009/10 season, over two million people attended races at 360 racecourses across Australia. The popularity of horse racing is due in part to the many venues available. Australia has 300 racecourses spread out across the country. Australian fans also like to bet on their favorite horses and jockeys, often seeking advice on how to handicap races and understand betting odds. Understanding how to pick the best agency for sports betting helps punters find a site with a good selection of markets, up-to-date, competitive odds, and maybe even race-specific bonuses and promotions, especially around the time of major events like those mentioned above.

Australian Rules Football (AFL)

The AFL is the most popular sport in the country, drawing in millions of fans every season.   There are 18 teams in the league, each representing different cities or regions. The season typically goes from March to September, with each team playing 18 games. The physicality of the sport is attractive to both spectators and players, known for its thrilling matches and high-scoring excitement that captures the attention of casual viewers and sports fans alike.

Additionally, the AFL is the preferred sport for betting due to its extensive fan base. The most popular bets are ante-post betting, which involves predicting the team to be victorious in the league and Most Losses, which allows individuals to place bets on the team expected to have the highest number of losses.


During the summer, cricket is the most loved sport, appealing to both casual and dedicated fans. It is a favorite among viewers and fans. Australia’s national team is highly regarded and ranks third in the ICC ODI Championship. Cricket is the most viewed sport in the country, with over 485 million viewers tuning in for the domestic season. Due to the sport’s widespread appeal and the numerous sportsbook and online casinos offering sports betting, many Australians enjoy betting on big tournaments including the Ashes series, and the Big Bash League.

Rugby League

Rugby League plays a role in Australian sports culture. Despite their shared origins Rugby League and Rugby Union are not the same sport. The National Rugby League (NRL) and New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) are the two competitions in this field. The NRL stands as Australia’s premier rugby league competition, with 16 participating teams while the NSWRL features 12 teams. With roots tracing to England Rugby League has been tailored to suit Australia’s unique style of play. The game has a following in New South Wales and Queensland where its appeal is credited to the passionate supporters and fierce competition, among local teams.  . 

Soccer (Football)

The A-League stands as the professional soccer competition in the country, highlighting both local talents and international luminaries. The Men’s division has garnered significant traction with millions of viewers and supporters. While not as dominant as Australian Rules Football or cricket in fan following, soccer holds a presence in terms of both participation and fan base. Soccer resonates with ethnic and cultural communities across Australia. 


Australia boasts over 780 tennis clubs along with more than 2,300 affiliated centers dedicated to the sport. The nation’s enthusiasm for tennis reaches its pinnacle during summer when elite players from around the globe gather in Melbourne for the Australian Open. Additionally, the Kooyong Classic—a professional tennis exhibition event—takes place every January at Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne. This tournament, staged on hard courts, features eight handpicked players competing in a promotion/relegation format, engaging in three matches each over four days to determine their final rankings.

Rugby Union

While the Rugby League often dominates headlines in regions, the Rugby Union remains a cherished sport across Australia. Rugby Union, known for its blend of grace, strategy, and physicality, captures the hearts of fans nationwide. Betting on rugby is a popular activity too. Many sports enthusiasts often enjoy head-to-head bets and point spread betting, whether it’s on the national team, leagues, or on individual players.

The national team, affectionately called the Wallabies, has clinched victory in the Rugby World Cup in 1991 and 1999. Super Rugby is Australia’s professional league, where five local teams face off against competitors from neighboring nations. Additionally, state and territory unions play a role in the sport. New South Wales and Queensland Rugby Union hold prominence due to their large populations and deep-rooted ties to rugby.


Basketball has gained popularity in Australia’s sports culture. The National Basketball League (NBL) has seen a revival in bringing in talented players and expanding its fan base across the country. The NBL consists of ten teams, with nine in Australia and one in New Zealand. It is a men’s basketball league that has a strong following. It is considered one of the top basketball leagues globally and has been attracting more attention recently. The league has a track record of showcasing famous players such as Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, and LaMelo Ball.  


Surfing holds a place in culture thanks to its stunning coastline and exceptional surfing spots. Australia ranks second globally after the United States for having several surfers totaling around 3.5 million participants. Queensland’s Gold Coast stands out with its surfer-to-population ratio compared to others worldwide. Australia has produced surfers, including Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, and Tyler Wright.

Australia hosts surfing competitions like the World Surf League Championship Tour that attract top surfers worldwide. This tour includes competitions held in Australia, such as the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Australia also hosts the Open of Surfing, a significant event in the surfing community.


While netball may not receive as much media attention as sports, its impact on Australian sports culture, especially among women and girls, is substantial. The sport has a following with international tournaments showcasing the skills of talented netball players.

From teams to leagues like the Suncorp Super Netball, netball provides women a platform to display their abilities and inspire future athletes. Despite facing challenges in gaining recognition, netball has a fan base that continues to grow in popularity due to the dedication of players, supporters, and organizations committed to promoting the sport.


Australia’s passion for sports is as vast and diverse as the country itself, with a wide array of activities that capture the nation’s heart and competitive spirit. From the rugged intensity of Australian Rules Football to the refined competitions of tennis, and the thrilling races of horse racing, Australians have shown an unwavering enthusiasm for both participating in and watching sports. Cricket and rugby, with their deep-rooted traditions, continue to be beloved, while soccer, basketball, and surfing are gaining ground, reflecting the country’s evolving tastes. Even netball, with a strong following among women and girls, plays a crucial role in the sports landscape. This variety not only showcases Australia’s rich sporting culture but also its commitment to fostering camaraderie, excellence, and a healthy, active lifestyle among its people.

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