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Tom Wills
Tom wills statue.jpg
Statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground of Tom Wills umpiring a game of school or folk football in 1858
Born August 19, 1835
Died May 2, 1880 (aged 44)

Thomas Wentworth "Tom" Wills (19 August 1835 – 3 May 1880) was an Australian all-round sportsman who helped invent Australian Football and helped write the Laws of Australian Football.

Wills was born in south-east New South Wales, Australia either near Gundagai or Queanbeyan.

From the age of 14 he went to Rugby School in England. At school he played both rugby football and cricket very well. By his final year in England, he was captain of the Rugby XI and he was listed in Bells Sporting Life as being one of the most promising young cricketers in England.

In 1859, Wills was involved with others in creating a set of football rules that were like a cross between rugby, soccer and Gaelic football. He made up the game for cricketers to keep in shape during the off-season (winter). Wills had help from people who included his cousin Henry Colden Harrison, and W.J. Hammersly and J.B. Thompson. This game is now Australian Rules Football.

Aboriginal cricket team at MCG in 1867
Tom Wills with the Aboriginal cricket team he captained at the MCG in December 1866

Wills grew up with Indigenous Australians. He spoke the language of the people who lived near him and played with the children. It has been suggested that Australian Rules Football is based in part on Marn Grook, an Aboriginal game with some similar rules to Australian Rules Football. Because the indigenous people Wills played with as a child would have played Marn Grook, Wills would have been influenced by this game when creating the rules for Australian Rules Football.

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