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AFL to start 2024 season with four-game ‘Opening Round’ in northern states

The 2024 AFL season will start with four fixtures in Queensland and New South Wales the week before the traditional Carlton-Richmond meeting in round one.

Key points:

The 2024 season will start with Sydney hosting Melbourne on Thursday, March 7
The rest of the Opening Round will see NSW and Queensland-based teams host Victorian clubs
AFL chief Andrew Dillon says the league has a “unique opportunity to play these four games in key markets”

Dubbed ‘Opening Round’ by the league, all four clubs from the northern states will host Victorian rivals for the first premiership points of the year.

The season will officially start with a Sydney-Melbourne clash at the SCG on Thursday March 7, with the Brisbane Lions to host Carlton at the Gabba the following night.

Gold Coast take on Richmond at Carrara Stadium in new coach Damien Hardwick’s first clash with his former club on Saturday.

GWS will host reigning premiers Collingwood at Giants Stadium later that night.

The Lions-Blues and Giants-Magpies meetings are rematches of last season’s preliminary finals.

The AFL hopes the set of Opening Round fixtures will give it a leg up in the northern markets.

“We were fortunate to be in a position where we were able to have access to our major venues in Queensland and New South Wales a weekend earlier than usual which gave us a unique opportunity to play these four games in key markets where footy continues to grow in popularity,” AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon said.

“The four match-ups are big, with four of our biggest supported Victorian clubs travelling north, and we look forward to starting our season with real momentum before we head into a blockbuster round of matches in round one.”

Carlton will take on Richmond on Thursday March 14 to kick off a full set of nine matches in round one.

The eight teams that play in the Opening Round will have a bye between rounds two and six.

It will mean all 18 teams will have played the same number of games by the start of round seven.

The byes will not occur in round four, which has been locked in for Gather Round, when all clubs will meet for a full set of fixtures in South Australia.




Author: Russell White