No More Grand Final Replays

Lisa Albergo's picture

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

In the 120 years of Australian Rules Football, there have been only three tied Grand Finals and five tied Finals matches. In most cases, there was always a replay. Up until the introduction of interstate teams, a replay the following week was not an issue with all the teams based in the state of Victoria, Geelong is about a one hour drive to and from Melbourne. However, in 1990 when a Qualifying Final between Collingwood and West Coast ended with scores level, it meant the Eagles would have to return to Perth after the game and then travel back Melbourne the following week for the replay. Needless to say, Collingwood won the replay.

The league then introduced rules to prevent such an occurrence again by introducing two "five minute halves" with the two teams switching scoring ends at the end of each five minutes of play, just as they would after each quarter during a regulation game. In the extraordinary event that scores were still level, another 10 minutes would be added. This scenario has never occurred since the new ruling was introduced. Then again, since this new rule was introduced, there have only been two Finals matches which required the extra time.

However, this new rule did not apply to Grand Finals. Why is unclear and can only be speculated upon. Then came the 2010 Grand Final between Collingwood and St Kilda. It was a fiercely contested game, but an unlucky bounce of the ball as it fell in front of St Kilda goalsneak Stephen Milne deprived St Kilda of the winning goal and the game ended with the scores tied. A replay in years gone by was mostly a simple matter with a new AFL Record being published and replay tickets being printted and sold. However, in the modern age, there is so much more to consider - the logistics and costs of the MCG, publishing an extra issue of the AFL Record, the broadcast schedules, ticketing, sponsorship deals, the pregame functions and all everyone involved from within and without the industry having to rearrange schedules - family events, vacations, travel plans, etc - around the replay. 

Since that 2010 match and the subsequent replay - which Collingwood won - there has been plenty of debate whether or not the AFL should keep the replay format or change the rules. The league finally decided to add extra time to eliminate the need for a replay, citing the disadvantages it could cause in the future should an interstate team make it through to a Grand Final. In 2016, this is a real possibility with Sydney, Greater Western Sydney, Adelaide and the West Coast Eagles all contesting for a Grand Final berth. However, there have been a few modifications to the rules for the Grand Final. if scores are level at the final siren, the two extra periods will be added. If the scores are still level after the 10 minutes of extra time, play will continue until a team scores, Once the score is confirmed, the siren will sound to end the game. Each team will also be allowed 15 extra bench rotations. In the event that scores are still tied after the initial 10 minutes of extra time and the siren sounded but one team has a post-siren shot on goal, the ball will be returned to the center square for another play, with any resulting score by any team winning the game. Once the score is confirmed, the siren will sound to end the match.

Just for the record, Collingwood has been involved in five of the drawn Finals games. The first came in 1928 against Melbourne with the Magpies winning the replay. The Pies did it again in the 1977 Grand Final, with North Melbourne winning the following week. They did it again in 1990 in a Qualifying Final against the West Coast Eagles and won the replay. In 2007, Collingwood surely must have been sending thank you notes to the AFL for the rule change as they had to travel to Perth to face the Eagles in a Semi-Final; which they won in extra time by kicking 3.3 to the Eagles 0.2. Then came the aforementioned 2010 Grand Final.

Sources: AFL Record Season Guide, AFL Media Release from Patrick Keane, 100 Years of Australian Football

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