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AFLW moves to conference format


Not every AFLW team will play each other next season as the growing competition moves to a two-conference format.

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With Geelong and North Melbourne entering the women’s league in 2019, the 10-team competition will be split into two groups of five to play across a seven-match regular season with a longer finals series.

The schedule appears to be a compromise after AFL boss Gillon McLachlan recently floated the concept of a reduced six-match regular season with two rounds of finals for broadcast reasons.

Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce said the competition risked becoming “gimmicky” if the length of the season didn’t allow for each team to play at least once.

That view was widely shared among other women’s players.

Under the plan yet to be formally ticked off, clubs will not be limited to playing within their predetermined conferences.

They will play four games within their group – the makeup of which is still unconfirmed – with the remaining three inter-conference clashes.

The new two-week finals’ system will feature each conference’s top two teams, with the winners meeting in the grand final in late March.

Head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said the players’ finals wish meant a longer regular season was not possible.

“We haven’t gone with nine home and away games (for 2019) because we recognise that a finals series was determined by the playing group as something they wanted,” she told AFL Media.

Final ladder positions will be used to determine which of the winning preliminary finalists host the decider.

The elongated season will mean it wraps up a week later, during round two of the AFL season.


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