AFL 2022: Hawthorn and Adelaide dudded by change to weighted fixture, games vs top six teams

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The AFL has released its full fixture for 2023 and two teams who struggled in 2022 appear to have been dudded by a scheduling tweak.

Hawthorn and Adelaide will play an extra top six team next year because of a change to the AFL’s weighted rule.

The AFL confirmed it had adjusted the weighted rule to accommodate the extra ‘Gather Round’, which means each club plays double up games against six teams (instead of five) in 2023.

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The league also confirmed there would be a pre-finals bye next year, despite opposition from top-four clubs that it advantages teams in the lower part of the eight.

The change to the weighted rule dealt an extra hurdle for bottom six teams Hawks and Crows who have to play two teams that finished 2022 in the top six on the ladder next season.

The Crows and Hawks will face the same number of top six teams as Collingwood and Melbourne, who finished in the top six last season.

Previously, clubs who finished in the bottom six played either none or only one double-up game against top six teams.

But the AFL has had to adjust the weighted rule to include the extra ‘Gather Round’ in South Australia next season.

Fixture boss Travis Auld said there had been a low key change to how the weighted system would work in 2023.

“The weighted rule remains central to the fixture, however we had to make an adjustment for the 24th round and add a sixth double-up match up for each club,” Auld said.

“You get a minimum of two and maximum of three double-up matches against teams in your bracket of six, and either one or two double-up games in each of the other two groups of six.”

The weighted rule, which divides the competition into a top six, middle six and bottom six based on last year’s ladder, has been heavily supported by clubs and has been successful for helping create a more fair and interesting fixture since it was introduced in 2013.

But it means the Hawks tackle premiership contenders Fremantle and Melbourne twice and the Crows will meet Brisbane and Collingwood twice.

That is compared to other years where bottom six clubs attempted to avoid any double up games against premiership heavyweights.

Carlton is another club with two games against top six teams as Michael Voss looks to steer the Blues back into finals for the first time in a decade.

West Coast, North Melbourne, GWS Giants and St Kilda all play only one double up game against the top six teams.

The Hawks were handed the annual Easter Monday blockbuster clash against Geelong at the MCG but were otherwise locked out of the prime time spots.

The Magpies paid a small price for the Anzac Day game falling on a Tuesday next year, meaning Collingwood only plays a total of three matches in the prime time Thursday and Friday night slots despite a thrilling 2022 season.

Essendon was also given double-up games against two top six teams but will take on three teams below it on last season’s ladder from the bottom six, in a boost for coach Brad Scott in his first year in charge.

The Bombers’ fixture is considered one of the softer schedules, alongside the struggling North Melbourne and West Coast, who all have three double-up games against bottom-six sides.

Grand finalists Geelong and Sydney, and the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle face much tougher runs.

Originally published as Two teams dudded by AFL fixture change

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