The 2021 AFL Women’s season schedule has been revealed with major changes. The two conference system, which was used last year and this year, has been abolished, with the 14 teams competing for a single ladder. The decision to abandon the conference system has been made in order to maximize the chance of a season being completed should another COVID-19 outbreak occur. The pandemic disrupted the 2020 season so much that it was abandoned after just one week of finals was played, with no premiership awarded.
Just after the AFL Draft. Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the government would contribute $8.5 million toward a new meatal health facility to be named after the late Danny Frawley . The Victorian government has also committed $7.3 million and there will be other philanthropic contributions to the Danny Frawley Center for Health and Wellbeing which will be located at St Kilda’s home base of Moorabbin Reserve, near the club Danny loved.
The AFL draft was held on December 8. Below are all the players drafted. The listings are club by club so readers can scroll more easily to the club(s) of interest. A few notes regarding the listings: the first number is the draft selection followed by player name (club of origin), age, height in metric (coversion), weight in metric (conversion) and position with the profile below. Many players played for more than one club, but only the primary NAB or other club is listed wtih any others named as necessary. Readers will also note Team Dal Santo and Team Brown.
Collingwood defender Tom Langdon has been forced to retire due to a chronic knee injury. Langdon, 26, was drafted in 2013 and played 89 games for the Magpies. A mainstay of the backline, he was named one of the best on ground in the 2018 Grand Final against the Eagles. He suffered severe cartilage damage just two months into the 2019 season and has not played since. General manager of football Geoff Walsh paid tribute to Langdon, “Tom played some wonderful football ... and it was a sad day when the reality of his premature retirement arrived.
The Swans have moved Robbie Fox and Sam Gray to the rookie list under the new AFL Rules. Both will be listed as Category A rookies for the 2021 season. Under the new rules, the club does not need to wait until the rookie draft period and the pair will be available for senior selection without having to be elevated back to the senior list.
In late November, the Sydney Swans sacked midfielder/forward Elijah Taylor. Taylor, 19, was arrested in September for assaulting his girlfriend in a downtown Perth hotel. After the arrest, he was stood down from all football duties. At the end of September, Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawfully assaulting Lekahni Pearce and causing her bodily harm. He was already in trouble with the Swans. In August, Taylor was suspended - and the club was fined - when his girlfriend entered the hub hotel, violating the quarantine protocols.
The AFL announced several rule changes for 2021. One is that Interchange rotations will be cut from 90 to 75.
In second-tier competitions, teams will be required to reset in zones for boundary throw-ins and kick-ins along with center bounces. The six-six-six set-up was introduced ahead of the 2020 season. For now, the rule is on a trial basis but could be introduced for the senior competition in 2022.
A young rising basketball star has turned his back on the sport to return to Aussie Rules. Paul Tsapatolis, 18 and 202cm (6'5") and of Greek heritage, has had offers from the USA for college basketball and to play professionally in Greece, but has rejected them. Despite a very successful junior career in basketball, he said he has been thinking more and more about football, a game he has loved since a young age, " ... when I was playing under-13s footy, I always loved footy and I wish I never gave it up ... “Basketball was always trying to push you towards playing one sport.
In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.