The Afl Fixture 2023 is the schedule of matches for the 2023 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, the 127th season of the Australian Football League (AFL). The fixture was announced by the AFL on December 10, 2022, and it features some changes, highlights, and challenges for the 18 clubs competing for the premiership.
Changes from Previous Seasons
The Afl Fixture 2023 has some notable changes from previous seasons, such as:
- The home-and-away season will be played over 24 weeks, instead of 23, to allow for more flexibility and recovery time for players and clubs. This means that each club will have two byes during the season, instead of one.
- The season will start on Thursday, March 16, with a traditional clash between Richmond and Carlton at the MCG, and end on Sunday, August 27, with a floating fixture for Round 24. The finals series will start on Friday, September 1, and end with the Grand Final on Saturday, September 30.
- The fixture will feature more Thursday night games, with a total of 15 across the season, compared to nine in 2022. This is to cater for the growing popularity and demand for prime-time slots.
- The fixture will also feature more double-headers, with two games played on Friday nights in Rounds Nine and 15, and two games played on Saturday afternoons in Rounds Six and Eight. This is to maximise crowds and exposure for different markets and time zones.
- The fixture will include a special round in South Australia in Round Five, where all 18 clubs will play a match in the state for premiership points. This is part of the ‘Gather Round… A festival of footy’ initiative that aims to celebrate and showcase the game in different regions.
Highlights and Marquee Games
The Afl Fixture 2023 has some exciting highlights and marquee games that fans can look forward to, such as:
- The Grand Final rematch between Geelong Cats and Sydney Swans in Round Six at GMHBA Stadium. The Cats won their tenth premiership in 2022 after defeating the Swans by 22 points in a thrilling contest at Optus Stadium.
- The ANZAC Round in Round Seven, which features the now traditional ANZAC Eve match between Melbourne and Richmond at the MCG, the ANZAC Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG, and the GWS Giants playing in Canberra against Gold Coast Suns.
- The Sir Doug Nicholls Round in Rounds 10 and 11, which celebrates and honours the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and communities to the game. The round includes marquee games in Sydney, Darwin, Adelaide, and Melbourne, as well as the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G event between Richmond and Essendon.
- The Showdown between Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power in Round Three at Adelaide Oval. The fierce rivals have played some epic battles over the years, with Port Adelaide winning the most recent one by four points in Round Eight of 2022.
- The Western Derby between West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers in Round Three at Optus Stadium. The local derby is always a passionate and intense affair, with West Coast winning the most recent one by nine points in Round Seven of 2022.
Challenges and Opportunities
The Afl Fixture 2023 also presents some challenges and opportunities for the clubs, such as:
- Collingwood will have a tough start to the season, with six of their first eight games against finalists from 2022. They will also have to travel to Perth twice in the first six rounds, to face West Coast Eagles in Round One and Fremantle Dockers in Round Six.
- Carlton will have a chance to prove themselves in prime-time slots, with seven Thursday or Friday night games across the season. They will also have a chance to play in front of big crowds at the MCG, with nine home games at the iconic venue.
- Brisbane Lions will have a favourable draw, with six Thursday or Friday night games across the season. They will also have an advantage of playing at their home ground, The Gabba, more often than any other club, with 13 home games out of 22.
- Geelong Cats will have a challenging draw, with only five Thursday or Friday night games across the season. They will also have to travel interstate nine times out of 22 games, including trips to Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Canberra.