‘Lazy scheduling’ – Should Richmond and Carlton open the AFL season?


Should Richmond and Carlton open the AFL season? 

The AFL released the fixture for round one 2023 late last week with some queries arising about some of the scheduling.

Since 2008, the Tigers and Blues have played on a Thursday at the MCG with crowds of 80,000 going along to see the two biggest clubs in the land.

Excluding some years (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2022), the old rivals have opened the new season.

However, there has been some push recently to change the current tradition and look at more creative ways to add excitement to the opening round.

In 2022, the AFL implemented a Grand Final rematch between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs to kickstart the new campaign.

Placed on a Wednesday to ensure the Richmond-Carlton Thursday night classic could continue its ritual, the follow-up from the decider was never given a chance and has quickly been scrapped.

Given the lack of change and failure to come up with any new ideas in the last decade or so, it begs the question: Is the AFL’s fixture scheduling becoming lazy?

Speaking on SEN, former Adelaide player Josh Jenkins expressed his surprise at how the Blues and Tigers keep snatching the opening game of the AFL season.

“Have I missed the moment where Richmond and Carlton were given the entitlement to open the season each and every year? Or did it slowly evolve cause two powerful clubs were able to strong-arm themselves into the season opener?” Jenkins said.

“In most leagues I follow, either the champs or a grudge match is really the way they tend to open the season.

“It should be earned.”

Fellow SEN radio presenter Sam Hargreaves also shared a similar opinion to Jenkins, saying the AFL uses Richmond-Carlton season openers as an easy way out.

“It’s the cheap cheer. It’s the easy option. It’s a layup. I think its lazy scheduling,” Hargreaves said.

“You know you’re going to get a crowd. You know you’re going to get ratings. It’s almost like a set-and-forget.”

This comes shortly after Port Adelaide legend Kane Cornes took aim at the AFL for their scheduling inefficiencies, saying the Victorian teams are at an advantage in round one.

“Why is it still so Victorian centric?” Cornes asked on SEN’s Sportsday.

“I read the press release from the AFL and Travis Auld and he says all Victorian based clubs are going to play in Melbourne in Round 1. Another free kick,” Cornes said.

“They are only focused on Melbourne. There are some issues in Perth with an Ed Sheeran concert … but they want it to look good on a press release that they’ve broken an attendance record. That’s the only thing. At the neglect of a national competition.”

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