The AFL’s comeback after the 81-day coronavirus enforced hiatus has earned mixed reviews, but one of the major changes to the game in the wake of the pandemic has left players debating its merits.
Quarters have been shortened to 16 minutes apiece for the COVID-19 impacted 2020 season, with Thursday night’s showdown between Richmond and Collingwood clocking in at a speedy 94 minutes - significantly shorter than the average runtime of more than two hours.
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Players and coaches alike quickly picked up on the shorter feel, with Nathan Buckley and Damian Hardwick both commenting on the ‘bizarre’ feel of the first match to be played in months.
"Clearly there are learning opportunities in there and, look, you're not going to be in this circumstance again, playing your second game of the year off an 83-day break and then not getting a result,” Buckley said.
“It is what it is, we're rapt to be back, we're rapt to have the opportunity and we'll be better for the run.
“We've had a pretty short prep coming back, and maybe our expectations should be suitably adjusted – the footy will get better as the year progresses.”
AFL players, fans give shorter game mixed reviews
Collingwood midfielder Taylor Adams was succinct when giving his opinion on Geelong-based radio station K-Rock after the drawn match.
“The game was too short,” Adams bluntly replied when asked of his opinion.
The shortened quarters and rust from a lengthy layoff led to the lowest aggregate score in an AFL game since 1999 - with the Tigers and Magpies combining for just 72 points.
The jury was out among fans as well, with even rugby fanatic Steve Price chiming in to suggest his Tigers had been hard done by as a result of the shortened game.
Given the AFL is not forcing teams to play more than their normal once a week fixture can someone explain to me why we are playing 16 min quarters!! Tigers would have smashed Pies with normal playing time!
— Steve Price (@StevePriceMedia) June 11, 2020
“Given the AFL is not forcing teams to play more than their normal once a week fixture can someone explain to me why we are playing 16 min quarters!!” Price tweeted.
“Tigers would have smashed Pies with normal playing time!”
Trendy question: will the #AFL premiers have an asterisk this year?
Answer: No, but the league will definitely use an asterisk when shorter quarters ensure a record low scoring average for the season.#AFLPiesTigers
— Matt Turner (@mattturner1986) June 11, 2020
I cannot imagine why anyone could possibly like shortened quarters. You're going to have a lot of scorelines in the 40-70 range. Surely that's not what the AFL wants? #AFLPiesTigers
— Chris De Silva (@cdesilva23) June 11, 2020
Bitter rivals Geelong and Hawthorn are set to face off on Friday night.