Adding a point to the AFL

Noting that this year’s AFL season has been the lowest scoring since 1968, UniSA Masters researcher, Jackson Lane has imagined the 2019 season results, had a bonus points system for in-game outcomes been introduced, as it has been in the Suncorp Super Netball competition. 

And while Geelong would still be on top, Hawthorn would have made the final eight and according to Lane, there would have been greater encouragement for attacking play, resulting in a lot more action for spectators to enjoy. 

The system adopted by the super netball competition sees bonus points awarded for every quarter won in addition to four points for a game win and two points for a draw. Up to eight points are available to teams each game. 

Predicting the impact of a bonus point system on how the game is played is a little difficult, but Lane believes it could have a powerful impact in the last few minutes of each quarter. 

“The way the game is played now, teams are more focussed on not conceding a score in the last few minutes of a quarter and play conservatively by trying to keep possession, slow the game down and kick the ball long to the boundary to let the clock tick down. Imagine the scenario where a team is narrowly losing the quarter with a minute to go and are trying to earn a bonus point,” Lane says. 

“It would make it almost a game within a game and raise the stakes for the players and the excitement for the spectators.” 

Lane says the trend towards lower scoring games is a global, cross-code phenomenon – with lower scores reported in Rugby and World Cup Soccer

But it is a trend not lost on Rugby Union which, in recent years, has been proactive in its bid to reverse the drift to low scores and dull play. 

The code introduced a bonus point system which rewards teams that score at least three more tries than the opposition with one bonus point, and another bonus point is awarded for teams that lose by no more than seven points. 

“This creates a real boost to the game because even if the game result is well beyond doubt, there is an incentive to keep at it till the final siren or whistle,” Lane says. 

“There are a lot of ways you can tackle the bonus points system – in the AFL there could be extra points for any team that scores more than 100 points in a game or similar incentives and rule changes that will encourage more attacking play and liven up the game.” 

And for those interested in how a points system might have impacted this year’s AFL results here is a quick glimpse. 

Actual Position

Bonus Point position

Team

Wins

Quarters Won

Total Points

Percentage

1

1

Geelong

16

57

121

 

3

2

Richmond

16

55

119

 

2

3

Brisbane

16

53

117

 

4

4

Collingwood

15

46

106

 

5

5

West Coast

15

45

105

 

6

6

GWS

13

46

98

 

7

7

Western Bulldogs

12

43

91

 

9

8

Hawthorn

11

45

89

108.7

10

9

Port Adelaide

11

45

89

105.4

8

10

Essendon

12

41

89

95.4

11

11

Adelaide

10

41

81

 

12

12

North Melbourne

10

40

80

 

15

13

Sydney

8

44

76

 

13

14

Fremantle

9

36

72

 

14

15

St Kilda

9

36

72

 

16

16

Carlton

7

38

66

 

17

17

Melbourne

5

33

53

 

18

18

Gold Coast

3

26

38

 

*Teams in bold are those that would have been affected by the quarter bonus point system.

 

UniSA media contact: Michèle Nardelli phone: +61 418 823 673 or +61 8 8302 0966 email: michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

 

 

 

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