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Special Opening Round and More Thursday Games in 2024 AFL Schedule

Collingwood 2023 (AFANA/Kim Densham)

The AFL released its 2024 schedule on Thursday, 16th November, although some details were revealed in the days prior. A new feature is a four-game Opening Round in early March to promote Aussie Rules in NSW and Queensland. Sydney Swans will host the season opener against Melbourne at Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday night, 7th March. It will only be the second time in AFL history that the first game of the season is played in the Harbour City (the first time was 2012). The following night (Friday 8th March) sees Brisbane facing Carlton at The Gabba in a rematch of this year's preliminary final. On Saturday, 9th March, Gold Coast will host Richmond in late afternoon, pitting new coach Damien Hardwick against his former club for the first time. The game will also mark the senior coaching debut of new Tigers coach Adem Yze. It will be followed by a Saturday night game between GWS and Collingwood in another preliminary final rematch. The eight teams involved in Opening Round will have a bye at some point between Round 2 and Round 6, meaning all 18 clubs will have played the same number of games by the start of Round 7. All clubs will have a bye across the four weeks between Rounds 12 and 15.

A full Round 1, featuring all 18 clubs, will kick off on Thursday, 14th March with the traditional Carlton v Richmond game at the MCG.

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2023 AFL Schedule

Geelong Celebrate 2022 Flag

The AFL released the 2023 men's schedule on Saturday, 10th December. The unexpected announcement (at 6:00PM AEDT, 2:00AM US EST) came after a copy was apparently leaked to The Melbourne Age, which published it online in the afternoon. It was the second straight year that the schedule was launched in December. While the venues had been set, the League has only confirmed the dates and times for the first 15 rounds. The schedule for Round 16 through to 24 will be progressively revealed during 2023 with advance notice.

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Flexible Scheduling Continues for 2021 Season

Richmond wins 2020 flag

The AFL has released the 2021 schedule but with only confirmed dates and times for the first six rounds. After the entire 2020 season was hugely impacted by COVID-19, the League opted to continue flexible scheduling in 2021 in case of another outbreak in Australia, and to ensure the season would be completed. Exact dates and times for the remaining 17 rounds will be released in four-to-six week blocks with four weeks’ notice. The schedule for Round 7 is expected to be announced at the conclusion of Round 2 on March 28th.

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AFL Travel Logistics and Attendances

With the season set to restart on June 11th and the next four rounds now scheduled, there are logistical issues facing multiple clubs regarding travel. Both Essendon and North Melbourne are scheduled to play in New South Wales on the same day in round two. Essendon against the Swans and North against Greater Western Sydney. While travel arrangements are not confirmed, it appears Essendon and North will share a chartered jet to Sydney and return the same day. 

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AFL Announces New Schedule as Season Restarts

Dustin Martin. Photo: Kim Densham

After last week’s announcement by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan that the 2020 season would resume on June 11th, the League revealed the schedule for Rounds 2-5 on Monday afternoon (AEST). As widely expected, Richmond and Collingwood would kick off Round 2 on Thursday, June 11th, followed by Geelong hosting Hawthorn on Friday night, June 12th, the first time since round 3, 2006, that the two teams will clash at the Cats’ home ground of GMHBA Stadium.

Brisbane and Fremantle will meet at the Gabba on Saturday June 13th, followed by Carlton and Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. On Saturday night, Gold Coast will host West Coast while Adelaide will take on Port Adelaide in the Showdown at Adelaide Oval, before the two teams relocate their operation bases to the Gold Coast. The Showdown game was made possible after the South Australian Government allowed Crows and Port players to complete full contact training at home. Because there are currently no senior field umpires based in Adelaide, four umpires will fly into the city this week to undergo 14 days of quarantine before the game.

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Tigers and Pies Big Winners in 2020 AFL Schedule

2019 AFL Premiers Richmond

The big winners when the AFL announced the 2020 schedule on October 31 included Richmond, Collingwood, Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane. Richmond will play on Thursday nights in first two rounds of the season as well as six Friday night games, while Collingwood will appear on Thursday night three times and Friday night five times. The Bulldogs scored five and the Lions earned four Thursday or Friday night games - up from just one for each club this year, as reward for their form improvements during the season. Essendon will play four Thursday night games and two Friday night games. At the other end of the scale, St Kilda and North Melbourne will each make one appearance on a Friday, with Fremantle and Gold Coast missing out on both prime time slots.

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