IT’S A FAMILIAR season opener with a twist.
Richmond and Carlton, who traditionally open the AFL season, will kick off the 2020 NAB AFLW season at Ikon Park on Friday, February 7.
FULL FIXTURE Where and when your club is playing
As confirmed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed on Monday, the season will run for eight home and away rounds, with three weeks of finals.
The Grand Final will be held on Saturday, April 18.
With 14 sides in the competition for the first time (Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast are all new), teams will once again be split into two conferences.
Gold Coast’s first match will come against GWS at Blacktown International Sportspark, West Coast plays Collingwood at Victoria Park and St Kilda and Western Bulldogs face off at RSEA Park.
The Saints-Bulldogs clash will also mark Nathan Burke’s first game in charge as Dogs coach; he will be coming up against the club where he played 323 games.
Teams will play every side in its conference once, as well as two “cross-over” matches with sides from the other pool.
Greater Western Sydney will host Geelong in round seven, which forms half of an historic double-header with the men’s teams to play their round one clash as well.
Adelaide (first in A in 2019, premiers)
North Melbourne (third in A in 2019)
Geelong (second in B in 2019)
Greater Western Sydney (third in B in 2019)
Brisbane (fourth in B in 2019)
Gold Coast (new team)
Richmond (new team)
Fremantle (second in A in 2019)
Melbourne (fourth in A in 2019)
Western Bulldogs (fifth in A in 2019)
Carlton (first in B in 2019)
Collingwood (fifth in B in 2019)
St Kilda (new team)
West Coast (new team)
Conferences were arranged via a snaking pattern based on last season’s results in an attempt to balance the competitive strength of each pool.
The number of wins recorded by each side in 2019 were added up within the two conferences, with the teams in pool A recording 18 and the teams in pool B winning 17.
The top three sides in each conference will qualify for finals, with the teams who finished first in each pool given a bye in the first week of finals.
Week one, April 4-5
Semi-final one: A2 v B3
Semi-final two: B2 v A3
Byes: A1, B1
Week two, April 11-12
Preliminary final one: A1 v winner of B2/A3
Preliminary final two: B1 v winner of A2/B3
Grand Final, April 18
Winners of preliminary finals
There will be at least four double-headers between AFLW games and both Marsh Community Series and AFL premiership season matches:
* The first AFLW QClash between Gold Coast and Brisbane will take place in round three at Metricon Stadium before Gold Coast v Geelong in the Marsh Community Series
* GWS and Geelong will meet in round seven of the AFLW and round one of the AFL at Giants Stadium on Saturday, March 21
* There will be two games played in Morwell on Sunday, March 8: Collingwood v Western Bulldogs (AFLW) and Collingwood v St Kilda (Marsh Community Series)
* GWS and Richmond will take over Wagga Wagga on the weekend of March 7-8, with the AFLW match taking place on Saturday, followed by the Marsh Community Series game on Sunday.
More double-headers may be announced when the complete AFL fixture is released on Thursday.
Richmond will play its opening game at Ikon Park to allow for the Tigers’ massive fan base, with games later in the season to be held at Swinburne Centre (Punt Road) and Elizabeth Oval (Bendigo).
AFL head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said some matches, such as the Tigers’ games at Punt Road, may be subject to ticketing given the small capacity of the ground.
“We want to make sure people don’t miss out and they’re able to come in,” Livingstone said.
“We’ll keep them really minimal, they’ll only be a couple of dollars in terms of the costing of those tickets, but there are some venues that we have to, if necessary, ticket for operational purposes. We’ll keep everyone up to date.
“Part of the beauty of AFLW is going home (to traditional grounds), and we’ve got that as really strong feedback from our fans. So Richmond have a few games at Punt Road and it’s an opportunity for their fans to get in.
“There’s no [reason not] to looking at Punt Road and what could be done to increase in future years the ability to have more spectators come in to watch AFLW. But we love the fact AFLW comes home.”
The introduction of Gold Coast and West Coast means cross-state rivalries will play out for the first time, with a QClash in round three and a Western Derby in round two at Optus Oval.