TWO pools of five teams, seven rounds and two weeks of finals is the structure of the AFL Women’s 2019 season confirmed by the AFL’s Sarah Black today.
Each of the 10 teams will play the four other sides in their pool, as well as three of the five sides in the other pool. The design of each pool is likely to be confirmed next month, with the most likely scenario involving the top two sides split into a different conference, the bottom two teams split, and the two expansion sides split.
Travel will be a key consideration for sides, with the four interstate sides likely to be split with two in each pool. The likelihood is that the northern clubs – Brisbane and GWS GIANTS – will be in one pool, while the other clubs – Adelaide and Fremantle – will be in the opposite pool. With Brisbane to be in the opposite pool to the Western Bulldogs, it means the most likely scenario is that therefore Adelaide and Fremantle will join the Bulldogs, while GWS will be in the Brisbane pool. Given Fremantle finished seventh, the likelihood is that Carlton will be in the Brisbane and GWS GIANTS pool. it leaves Melbourne (third) and Collingwood (fifth) as the two existing clubs, while Geelong and North Melbourne will be split.
*NOTE: Not official, will be confirmed at a later date by the AFL.
Pool A: Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong
Pool B: Brisbane, GWS GIANTS, Carlton, Collingwood, North Melbourne
In terms of a decision around which teams face off in the cross-over games, rivalries and weight of fixture will be taken into account. For example, if the above pools were to occur, Melbourne’s rivalry with Carlton and Collingwood would be tempting for organisers, while a battle of the expansion sides would be a must. A Grand Final replay would be expected, as would potentially a clash between the two inaugural grand finalists.
The season kicks off on the first weekend of February, with the AFL Women’s Grand Final to be held on March 30.
The two top sides from each pool will qualify for finals, with the top side from each pool facing off against the second placed side in the opposing pool to determine the two grand finalists.
For more information, check out the article on the AFL website.