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Fixture reveals Blues and Tigers to open season

Richmond's Jack Riewoldt battles with Carlton's Michael Jamison during the round 18 clash at the MCG.

Richmond's Jack Riewoldt battles with Carlton's Michael Jamison during the round 18 clash at the MCG. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

THE AFL has made two major fixturing calls: Carlton and Richmond have retained their hold on the Thursday night season opener at the MCG next year, while Hawthorn and West Coast will meet on the Friday night of the final round this year.

Essendon is likely to meet Collingwood on Saturday afternoon in round 23, with Carlton earmarked to play St Kilda in a Saturday twilight match of what shapes as a momentous final round. All three of those games can determine ladder positions in the eight, which requires them to be played earlier than Sunday for finals fixturing flexibility.

While the Hawthorn-West Coast match is assured of being on Friday night, the Essendon-Collingwood and Carlton-St Kilda games still have to be confirmed.

The AFL is planning to open the 2013 season with the Tigers and Blues on Thursday evening, March 28, on the eve of Good Friday, and will schedule the match - which has become one of the season's biggest - at the MCG, not Etihad Stadium.

The league had considered scheduling the game at a later date and also starting a week earlier in order to accommodate an additional bye. But it has chosen to stick with what has become a traditional round one. Next year, round one will stretch from Thursday, March 28, until Easter Monday, on April 1.

This year's Richmond-Carlton game, on a Thursday night, was the second rather than the first game of the season, due to the scheduling of Greater Western Sydney's historic debut against Sydney as a stand-alone fixture the previous Saturday night.

Richmond and Carlton started playing on the Thursday before the remainder of round one in 2008, when Chris Judd suited up for the Blues for the first time; the match was a sellout the following year when Ben Cousins made his debut as a Tiger. The fixture has averaged more than 70,000 fans and generates huge television ratings.

The AFL's fixturing call for the start of 2013 means the MCG will have just 48 hours to get ready for football if Victoria's cricketers host the Sheffield Shield final.

Cricket Australia will unveil its domestic fixture next week, with the shield final to start on March 22 and run for five days.

Because Cricket Victoria does not have an alternative venue for first-class games, the MCG is its only option, meaning ground staff have to remove its drop-in pitches and prepare the stadium for football in rapid time. Victoria will play its first match of the domestic cricket season in Perth - the day before the AFL grand final.

Carlton's fixture next year is likely to include two matches each against Richmond and long-time foes Collingwood and Essendon.

Of the other final-round matches this season, Richmond and Port Adelaide (at the MCG), and Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs are all but certain to be played on the Sunday, since three of those teams - and in all likelihood Richmond - have no hope of playing finals.

Geelong will host Sydney at Simonds Stadium in round 23 - another in the final round's remarkable set of matches which have, potentially, huge ramifications for the final eight.

While the league is already working on the fixture for next year, some clubs have yet to finalise their requests.



  • It's about time the AFL stopped manipulating the fixture and have Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon only playing eachother once in a season. This year some teams have gained a distinct advantage by playing the new sides twice resulting in percentages not seen before at this time of the season. I dare the AFL to schedule Collinwood against GWS, GCS, Port, Melbourne and Bulldogs twice in season 2013. It will never happen but if the league wants to be fair to all teams then such a draw should occure at least once every 3 years.

    Fair And Balanced Draw - Joking
    Date and time
    August 03, 2012, 9:26AM
    • It wasn't such a problem for Collingwood playing Carlton and Essendon twice a year when those two teams were at the bottom of the ladder was it? As for percentage, Hawthorn has by far the highest percentage and they only play GCFC, GWS, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne once. And, unlike Collingwood, they haven't even played Gold Coast yet. Every year at least four teams have had to travel to Perth twice in a season. When was the last time this happenned to Collingwood? Like never. They usually don't even have to travel to Perth even once.

      Date and time
      August 03, 2012, 12:05PM
  • Everyone just needs to accept the AFL will never have a balanced draw for a variety of reasons. If you dont like it move onto badminton.

    This planet
    Date and time
    August 03, 2012, 10:53AM
    • There is a very simple solution to our unfair fixture - Have the same fixture for 10 years (the AFL can play around with when the games are on specifically) - that way if you play GWS twice now, it may be two easy wins but in 5 years it won't be and in 8-9 years it might be two easy wins again as the cycle of teams going from the top of the table to the bottom of the table occurs.

      Essendon, Carlton and Collingwood (and the various derbys) always play each other twice which is an advantage for various teams depending on their premiership windows. Why not be consistent over the whole competition for a 10 yr span?

      Date and time
      August 03, 2012, 11:04AM
      • Brisbane has an agreement that they play Easter Thursday at the Gabba.No doubt the A.F.L.will renege on this arrangement to keep the heavyweights in Victoria contented.

        Date and time
        August 03, 2012, 11:11AM
        • Fair And Balanced Draw - Joking [03, 2012, 9:26AM] has something of a point in saying that the AFL should stop "manipulating the fixture and have Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon only playing eachother once in a season". But fans have shown absolutely that they want these re-matches, and the WA and SA derby ones as well. Should the AFL be telling them: "Tough titties - rack off"?

          Another view is that the roster has to look as equitable as possible in terms of how often teams play each other, and, happily, the 18-team competition fits very neatly into a 22-game season. Here's how:

          Every season, a team plays its 17 opponents once, plus an annual re-match against its derby or traditional rival, for 18 games (which will actually reduce the re-matches which annoy Fair And Balanced). It also re-matches against four of its other 16 opponents for the season's total of 22 games.

          Over the next three seasons, those 'other' four re-matches are different, which completes a four-year cycle. It would even be possible to announce who re-matches against whom whom for the whole cycle in advance, though not (necessarily) when and where.

          The only questions are which of the Big Vic Four re-match, and which Victorian clubs get the booby prize of re-matches against their lowest-drawing fellows. Maybe a new set-up after each quadrennium?

          PS: one derby - let's call it the Founders Derby - should be Geelong v Melbourne every year. (Anyone who does not know why needs severe counselling, or a double-dose of Giesching.)

          Finally, no-one ever got a prize - well, not outside our New Age EdCentral or po-mo infested academia - for a piece of stupidity like NOT rostering events for which there is a mighty public demand.

          40 Degrees S
          Date and time
          August 03, 2012, 3:41PM
          • Another gift of 4 Premiership points to Carlton. If there is another club in the AFL that continually deludes itself in the pre-season and then falls flat when it counts like Richmond then I'd like to know it?

            Can the next 4 Richmond matches after that be against the current bottom 4 sides?, at least that way the Richmond supporters might snag a couple of wins for the season before Round 5 - that gives the smart ones a chance to book the cheap September deals for their holidays....

            Date and time
            August 03, 2012, 5:23PM
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