AFL Beat 2021 AFLW Season Preview

This week…

We are previewing the 2021 AFLW season!

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Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!

You may not recognize the competition from last year as there have been numerous changes.  Let’s go over them one by one:


No More Conferences!

There are still 14 teams in the competition but they are no longer divided into two conferences.  The conference system was controversial because one conference tended to be stacked while the other one was weak which resulted in a NFC East-type of situation.  That has been resolved with everyone lumped into one table, just like the men’s competition.

More Games!

Last year, there were only 6 games played. This year, we will play 9 games before Finals start.  In order to make things relatively even, the teams were ranked based on last year’s finish and the schedule was balanced so that each team would play an equal number of games against the A) Top Four Teams, B) Middle Six Teams, and C) Bottom Four Teams.

New Theme Rounds!

Round 2 will be the Pride Round with the AFLW celebrating the contributions of all folks under the rainbow while Round 5 will be the Indigenous Round.  No word yet on whether the teams will wear special guernseys for each round, but I would love to see them!  I know St. Kilda has some special Pride guernseys, so we’ll see if everyone else follows suit.

Games are $10 to attend!

Previously, all AFLW games were free to enter.  However, with COVID restrictions, it has become important to keep track of how many people are actually in the stadiums.  So, ticketing has been introduced at $10 per ticket to attend a game.  That still seems like a hell of a bargain!

New Finals Structure!

As the conference system went away, so did the old Finals structure.  This year, there will be three weeks of Finals with the Top Two getting a bye in the first week and the next four playing each other in Elimination Finals.  The winners play the top two seeds in Preliminary Finals in week two and the winners of the Preliminary Finals play each other in the Grand Final in week three.


As was the case with the AFL, all cards are on the table and the schedule posted above is was only a starting point.  Everything is on the table including installing hubs like the AFL did, relocating teams (as has already been done with GWS as they have been moved to Adelaide), and shifting games around to different dates, times, or rounds as was necessary during the 2020 AFL season. 

Incidentally, the AFLW is providing financial assistance to GWS players that were relocated as most AFLW players have jobs during the season and many may not be able to work remotely.  It will do so for any team that needs to be relocated.  That’s pretty friggen awesome.

For example, the schedule for the first two rounds has already been altered as COVID cases in Western Australia have caused the border between Western Australia and other states to close.  As was the case with the AFL season, this will probably be a recurring thing this year.


Now, you may have some questions.  I have answers.  Here is a handy FAQ for the 2021 season:

How can I watch the games?

Fox Sports has the rights to the AFL in the United States while TSN has the rights in Canada.  As of now, it seems like Fox will be showing AFLW games on their Fox Sports Plus channel.  There may also be games shown on FS1 and/or FS2.  I will keep you posted.

I do not have any information yet on whether TSN will be showing the games.  My source for broadcast information is the Australian Football Association of North America website here.  As soon as I find out any info, I’ll pass it on.

Also remember that if you are a Member of one of the AFL teams, you have, included in your membership, a subscription to the Watch AFL package for the entire season.  That includes the AFLW games!  The great thing about the Watch AFL app is that you not only get live games, but you also get full replays and you can access Australian analysis shows and view the Fox Footy channel live any time of day.

Alternatively, you can subscribe to Watch AFL without being a member of any AFL club.  The full season price is $165 USD, but with that you get every game in AFLW and AFL for the entire year.  Information is here

Honestly, it’s a better deal if you become a member.  The individual clubs send you goodies (like scarves, hats, keychains, etc.) and you get the Watch AFL package included.  Depending on the team, you’ll pay about the same or slightly more to become a member and you are supporting the club directly.  In addition, you don’t have to pay the full price up front. Many clubs charge you on a monthly basis, so you don’t feel the pain.

Who Won Last Year?

No one.  That’s not a joke.  Due to COVID, the Preliminary Finals and the Grand Final were not played.

How did they finish last year?

Here are the final standings:

Conference A

  1. North Melbourne Kangaroos 5-1
  2. GWS Giants 4-2
  3. Brisbane Lions 3-2-1
  4. Gold Coast Suns 2-3-1
  5. Geelong Cats 2-4
  6. Adelaide Crows 2-4
  7. Richmond Tigers 0-6

Conference B

  1. Fremantle Dockers 6-0
  2. Carlton Blues 5-1
  3. Melbourne Demons 4-2
  4. Collingwood Magpies 4-2
  5. St. Kilda Saints 2-4
  6. Western Bulldogs 1-5
  7. West Coast Eagles 1-5

Who is good this year?

Well, that’s a good question. Some teams that were good last year have lost some key personnel while others that were further down the ladder have stockpiled new talent for the upcoming season.  Here is a handy guide to each team put together by the AFLW media team:

Adelaide Crows

Brisbane Lions

Carlton Blues

Collingwood Magpies

Fremantle Dockers

Geelong Cats

Gold Coast Suns

GWS Giants

Melbourne Demons

North Melbourne Kangaroos

Richmond Tigers

St. Kilda Saints

West Coast Eagles

Western Bulldogs

Who has traditionally been good?

Here is a list of all the AFLW champions since the league started:

2017 Adelaide Crows defeated the Brisbane Lions

2018 Western Bulldogs defeated the Brisbane Lions

2019 Adelaide Crows defeated the Carlton Crows

2020 N/A

Who should I root for?

Honestly, that’s entirely up to you.  I choose to root for the Geelong Cats since that’s my team in AFL but in previous seasons I really liked the Brisbane Lions and the GWS Giants.  The thing I love about the women’s game is that they play really hard and give it their all.  I like to joke that the AFL Women hit harder than the Jets, but it’s true!  It’s not a watered-down version of the men’s game.  If anything, it’s a more intense game, which makes it really fun to watch.

I honestly enjoy watching the games no matter which team is playing.  You don’t have to pick a team to root for, if you don’t want to.  Just enjoy the games.


Practice games have already been played and the season starts this week!  Here is the latest schedule (All times Pacific):

AFLW Week One

Thursday, January 28, 2021

12:15 AM – Carlton Blues v Collingwood Magpies at Ikon Park

Friday, January 29, 2021

12:15 AM – St. Kilda Saints v Western Bulldogs at RSEA Park

8:10 PM – Melbourne Demons v Adelaide Crows at Casey Fields  Gold Coast Suns v Melbourne Demons at Metricon Stadium

10:10 PM – Gold Coast Suns v West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium West Coast Eagles v Adelaide Crows at Mineral Resources Park

Saturday, January 30, 2021

8:10 5:10 PM – Geelong Cats v North Melbourne Kangaroos at GMHBA Stadium (Kardinia Park)

6:10 7:10 PM – Richmond Tigers v Brisbane Lions at Swinburne Centre

10:10 9:10 PM – Fremantle Dockers v GWS Giants at Fremantle Oval


Here is the ladder, ready to be filled out:


1 Adelaide Crows          
2 Brisbane Lions          
3 Carlton Blues          
4 Collingwood Magpies          
5 Fremantle Dockers          
6 Geelong Cats          
7 Gold Coast Suns          
8 GWS Giants          
9 Melbourne Demons          
10 North Melbourne Kangaroos          
11 Richmond Tigers          
12 St. Kilda Saints          
13 West Coast Eagles          
14 Western Bulldogs          



Footy Tipping Contest

We will again be doing separate Tipping Contests for the AFLW and AFL 2021 seasons.  To sign up for this year’s AFLW contest, please follow this link:






That’s all for this week.  See you next time!

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Balls, what time zone are the game times you listed?