Draws in the AFL rekindle extra-time calls


Is it time to rethink the draw in regular season AFL matches? Photo: Michael Coghlan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As one of Australia’s most popular sporting codes, the Australian Football League (AFL) draws millions of fans from around the country.

The question of whether extra-time is necessary during home and away seasons has long been a topic of discussion with some fans and coaches describing the current system of awarding a draw when scores are level at the end of the match as outdated or unsatisfying.

Those in support of extra time say that with the modern game being played at such a high intensity and with so much skill, it’s unfair for matches to end in a draw, especially in close contests.

This is often unsatisfying for both players and fans, as it feels like the game has not reached a definitive conclusion.

Round one in the 2023 season saw a draw with neither the players nor fans wanting that result after a long wait over the summer to have footy back.

Fans often walk away from games that result in draws not knowing how to feel and it often feels more like a loss – and coaches don’t like that feeling either.

Extra-time would provide a clear winner and loser in each match, adding more excitement and drama to the game.

This is especially important in the home and away season, where each match is crucial in deciding which teams will make it to the finals.

By providing a clear result, teams will be more motivated to win, and fans will have more reason to attend or watch the matches.

Extra-time would add another layer of strategy to the game, as coaches would need to consider tactics and player rotations carefully, with fatigue becoming a factor.

This would add a new dimension to the game and make it even more interesting to watch.

Extra-time would give opportunities for players to showcase their skills in high pressure moments – players who thrive in these situations would become even more valuable to their teams, and their performances could be the difference between winning and losing.

This would add a new level of excitement and anticipation to the game, as fans would be eager to see who would step up and perform when it matters most.

The AFL introduced new extra-time rules for finals games in 2016 to eliminate a grand final replay (considering what happened in 2010).

That has been met with enthusiasm from fans and players but the league has yet to introduce extra-time during the home and away season.

The AFL has had one extra-time game since bringing the new rule in, which was between the Eagles and the Power in an elimination final in 2017.

Everyone was glued to their TV watching that extra-time suggesting the AFL is missing out on bringing more eyes to the game.

Implementing just 10 minutes additional time in the regular season as well as the the finals would be enough; it would still provide enough time for teams to score and win the game while minimising the risk of injury and fatigue.

The introduction of extra-time during the home and away season would bring many benefits to the AFL – it would make the game more exciting for fans, make it fairer to players, and help to eliminate draws from the season ladder.

While there is a risk of player injury, this is a risk that players are already exposed to in finals matches.