The AFL has released the Round One fixtures for the 2022 season, with the action to kick off on a Wednesday night.
The AFL and the Victorian Government have partnered to create a ‘Festival of Footy’ for the opening round of the Premiership season, designed to boost the sport after a difficult couple of years in the state.
All 10 Victorian teams will play in Melbourne with five blockbuster games over five days, the first time all 10 have played in the state during the same Round since Round 20, 2016.
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It’ll kick off with a Grand Final rematch between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Wednesday, March 16.
Carlton and Richmond will then resume their traditional Thursday night match up at the MCG followed by St Kilda vs Collingwood at Marvel Stadium on the Friday night.
Geelong will host Essendon, and their annual Country Game, at the MCG in a traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot, with Hawthorn vs North Melbourne to round out the footy festival at the MCG on Sunday March 20.
“The footy festival will bring people together and to be able to give all Victorians and footy fans from regional Victoria and interstate an opportunity to come to a game and see their AFLW and AFL teams across a 10-day period is a significant step bouncing back from a challenging year.” AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said.
“We want to get big crowds back to the footy, the weekly ritual of being able to go to a game and the sense of community it creates, connecting families and friends is something we have missed in the state.
“We look forward to seeing fans return to our venues in huge numbers as well as to all the surrounding business and venues that rely on footy and big events being staged across the city.
“Footy can hopefully help bring the heartbeat of the city back to Melbourne and back to the state of Victoria.”
Round One will also see a Sydney derby between the GWS Giants and the Sydney Swans on Saturday, March 19.
The Brisbane Lions also take on Port Adelaide that same night at The Gabba.
On Sunday, March 20 the Adelaide Crows will battle Fremantle at Adelaide Oval and the Gold Coast Suns clash with West Coast over at Optus Stadium.