Forget AFLX, the future of Aussie Rules is 12-a-side

Nick Symonds Roar Rookie

By Nick Symonds, Nick Symonds is a Roar Rookie


52 Have your say

    A new code war has just broken out within Aussie Rules, with the SANFL starting a new 12-a-side format called “Australian Unity Fast Footy” at Norwood Oval just a week before the AFL debut their own AFLX format at Hindmarsh.

    Both new formats come as a response to short formats developed for other sports designed to satisfy millennials who have busy lives and short attention spans… this desk is getting a bit dusty, sorry I’m getting off track, what was I saying again..?

    Oh yes. Other sports have been developing new formats that are shorter in length, faster in pace and have higher rates of scoring to appeal to young people who have busy lives and short attention spans. Rugby Union has 7s, Rugby League has 9s, Association Football has Soccer 7s, Tennis has Fast 4s, Golf has Golf Sixes, Netball has Fast5, Hockey has Hockey 5s and of course Cricket has T20.

    Unfortunately the AFL’s new AFLX format played on rectangular pitches seems to have gone down like a ton of bricks with fans of the traditional oval version. Luckily however SANFL have come to the rescue with their own new format dubbed “Australian Unity Fast Footy”.

    Apart from the name it seems to be a much better alternative than AFLX.

    Being designed for ovals it can be played on existing grounds without any change which is a big plus. The number of just 12 players also has its own advantages and this number could one day be adopted in the AFL.

    Reducing teams to 12 players would greatly reduce congestion and increase the speed of play which in turn will increase the rate of scoring. This would clearly increase its appeal to millennials (aka. youths). But the biggest advantage of reducing teams to 12 players is when it comes to player quality.

    Some have said that the number of teams in the AFL has diluted the quality and that cutting the competition to as few as 12 teams would alleviate this. This might be unlikely however since 6 teams would have to be cut from the competition, which would alienate many fans. However…

    While reducing the number of teams to 12 with 18 players in each might risk alienating fans if existing teams are cut, you could still have 18 teams with 12 players in each to achieve the same effect of concentrating the talent pool. It’s just common sense.

    My prediction of what will happen next is that the AFL will come to their senses and see that 12-a-side is the future once they see it in action at Norwood Oval. Once they do they will once again change the rules in the AFL so that matches will be divided into 15 minute quarters as they have already done in the AFL Women’s and at the same time reduce the number of players on teams in both leagues to 12.

    Once they make these changes it will take the AFL into a new golden age of popularity which will quickly race its way up the eastern seaboard sweeping all other codes before it and AFLX will simply become a distant memory thrown on the scrapheap of history.

    Down with AFLX! Long live 12-a-side!

    Viva SANFL!

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2017 @ 8:07am
      Cat said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      AFLX isn’t being developed for millennials. It is being developed for overseas markets. The reason it is designed for rectangular fields, is because outside of a very small number of countries, no one has cricket pitches to play. Every country has countless rectangular fields though.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 8:41am
        Wayne said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        Same reason Hockey 5s exists. For island/poor countries that don’t have facilities for a full hockey pitch, the 5s is played on about 1/3 size

      • December 16th 2017 @ 10:42am
        Martin Doyle said | December 16th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        I don’t think anyone let alone the AFL knows why they have decided to develop AFLX. You know that executives participate in these think tank sessions and they are under enormous pressure to come up with something that is “innovative”. Some times it takes more courage to take a steady as she goes approach rather than going off course and hitting an iceberg.

        • Roar Guru

          December 16th 2017 @ 11:06am
          Cat said | December 16th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          The AFL has clearly articulated the purpose. It is quite clearly designed for areas without access to cricket ovals. Rectangular fields can be found virtually everywhere.

    • Roar Pro

      December 15th 2017 @ 11:00am
      Darren M said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      Honestly, I think in the end, we’re wasting a lot of effort on something that’s probably not going to take off anyway. That goes for AFLX, AFL 9s and whatever other type of hybrid version they dream up.

      Football fans around the world will not really be interested in a mutated version of a sport they have never heard of and don’t care about.

      IF we need to provide content for millennials with short attention spans, then just play shorter games. Two halves, 20 minutes each. You could try reducing the number of players, but there is not really a need to speed up the game or increase scoring opportunities in AFL. We already have fast and high scoring games with the original format.

      • December 15th 2017 @ 11:20am
        Damo said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        ^^This. One of the reasons that T20 is so popular is because it is shortening a normally 8-10 hour day. AFL is already easily digestible at 2hrs a game. Making it even shorter won’t make it more appealing.
        Fixing the rolling scrummages that happen these days might help though.

        • December 16th 2017 @ 5:03pm
          Pelican said | December 16th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

          Totally agree Damo. Cricket needs a short form. AFL does not. Also what is all this millenial crap got to do with anything. The young of today are no diffrent to the young of the past. The generation theory is crap. The only group that were any different were baby boomers and that was just a size thing. Boomers think they were special which explains why they love generation theory. To the rest of us its its just a way for boomers to blow off about how great they were. They picked on gen x calling them the slacker generation now they bag the millenials. Boomers love to label everyone. Sports dont need to target paticular generations simply because generation theory is rubbish. Young people have always had shorter attention spans and more energy, and then they grow up.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 11:27am
        Cat said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Football fans around the world will not really be interested in a mutated version of a sport they have never heard of and don’t care about.

        Why is it limited to just ‘football fans’? Which football are you referring to anyway? People who do not know what AFL is are not going to see it as a ‘mutated version’. They will have no preconceived notions as to what it ‘should’ be. It will just be a new sport to them. They will either enjoy it or not. It need not be the biggest or most popular. It doesn’t need to be better than any other sport. Australia seems to be the only country that can follow only one sport at a time. Sports fans from most countries have no trouble following multiple codes without arguing which is better/bigger all the time.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2017 @ 3:30pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | December 15th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

          Also you don’t need to barge in the front door as far as getting an audience either. Plenty of people will play sports in the after-work/weeknights period which they may not be big followers of beforehand. Touch rugby in WA is an example.

          So introducing a modifiable version that’s playable on readily available spaces could easily fit into that sort of market and give people some familiarity of rules, skills etc to get a whole lot more out of watching the original version.

          It doesn’t have to be storming the bastions or taking over the world either. It can be enough to carve a little niche, certainly in the short to medium term.

          • December 16th 2017 @ 2:05pm
            Aligee said | December 16th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            Also what game is not a mutated version of something else ?

    • December 15th 2017 @ 11:39am
      Rick said | December 15th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      In this era of shortening games to keep the interest of people with short attention spans, it’s interesting that in any sport I can think of, that sports version of their traditional long game is still as appealing to its traditional viewers.
      Whereas the AFLs version of its traditional long game is not.
      I couldn’t care less what brave new format the gurus at AFL house come up with as long as they fix the mess they’ve left behind.

    • Roar Guru

      December 15th 2017 @ 12:18pm
      AdelaideDocker said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

      I know it’s a common stereotype that millennials have short attention spans and everything, but being a millennial myself (I think I’m classed as one, just) I really don’t see this stereotype in action. If a person around my age or younger wants to watch a game of footy, they’ll watch a game of footy. Sure, we’ll often have our phones, but we’re still inherently interested in the game.

      I don’t think this whole notion of marketing these new, ‘innovative’ and shorter games as fulfilling what millennials want or require is correct. It’s rubbish, to put it bluntly. In fact, it’s probably the opposite of what many of us want. We enjoy as much footy as possible.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 12:52pm
        Cat said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        I think the author has just made a very incorrect assumption about why AFLX is being created to begin with.

      • Roar Guru

        December 16th 2017 @ 2:32am
        Peppsy said | December 16th 2017 @ 2:32am | ! Report

        Given the “most popular” game for millenials is league of legends, which in competition can easily have 4+ hour matches (best of 5, 20-40 minute games, at least 10min between games), i don’t see how a 2hr game broken into 4 30min chunks would be considered too boring for younger audiences.

    • December 15th 2017 @ 12:24pm
      Peter Power said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

      It Is interesting reading about changes being made to games such as cricket, tennis and now Australian football. Hopefully someone will modify the game of golf before it dies. For our youth the game of golf takes too long – four hours. Some ideas háve been spoken about such as once a week say Fridays, the hole is made bigger, leaving the flag in when putting etc.

      • December 15th 2017 @ 2:06pm
        Kelly Andrews said | December 15th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        Interesting idea to make the hole bigger, I like it, however I don’t really see this would reduce the amount of time it takes to play a round of golf. You might have 10 less putts in a round, saving yourself 5 minutes. The majority of time spent on the golf course is walking between shots. Pitch n putt type courses take about 2 hours to play a round but being an avid golfer myself I find pitch n putt quite unsatisfying. I do play 9 holes occasionally if pushed for time however I usually leave the course wanting to play another 9 holes.

        • Roar Guru

          December 15th 2017 @ 3:13pm
          Mango Jack said | December 15th 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          Yes, it’s hard to see how the game can be condensed because, as you say, most of the time spent is in moving between shots (and waiting for slow groups ahead). Faster carts? Modified trail bikes / mopeds / segways? Safety would be an issue.

    • December 15th 2017 @ 1:07pm
      Mat said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

      Apparently one of the reasons AFLX was invented was for the NSW and Qld markets. The AFL wants to hire out rectangular grounds that currently are home to RL, RU and soccer and put pressure on their ability to conduct their grassroots competitions.

      Pretty ruthless I spose but that’s the AFL.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 1:28pm
        Mango Jack said | December 15th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        Rather than a ruthless tactic to undermine other footy codes, I think it’s more a case of there not being enough oval shaped grounds in those cities. The AFL probably see this as the biggest constraint to growth there. Sydney and Bris have heaps of rectangular fields, so it makes sense to create a version of AFL that juniors and local clubs can play on.

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 3:06pm
        The_Wookie said | December 15th 2017 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

        Havent even seen that anywhere from the AFL.

        It has been put forward that its ideal to send the code overseas – where many competitions already use rectangular grounds in Europe, Asia, the US and even NZ.

      • December 16th 2017 @ 1:39am
        Jarren said | December 16th 2017 @ 1:39am | ! Report

        The only people saying that are the Soccer and RL forums. Frankly, I dont think those codes were even an afterthought in the conception of AFLX. For a start, isn’t AFLX going to be played in the off season? How does AFLX put pressure on grassroots RL, RU and Soccer comps, when they are all winter sports?