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Covid outbreak forces 2021 AFL Grand Final to Perth

Jon Ralph, August 31, 2021 6:30PM Herald Sun

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Perth Stadium in WA will host the 2021 AFL Grand Final after Covid-19 outbreaks and restrictions forced it out of Victoria for the second year running. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraPerth Stadium in WA will host the 2021 AFL Grand Final after Covid-19 outbreaks and restrictions forced it out of Victoria for the second year running. Picture: Getty Images

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It’s official, this year’s AFL Grand Final will be played in Perth.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the game’s biggest match would be held outside Victoria for the second year in a row after the state’s ongoing Covid-19 outbreak made it impossible for it to be played at the MCG with a crowd.

The Brownlow Medal function, to announce the best and fairest player of the season, will also be held in Perth, kicking off a week of celebrations leading into the Grand Final on Saturday, September 25.

2021 AFL Finals Series Launch media_cameraThe 2021 premiership cup will be presented to the winning team after the Grand Final in Perth. Picture: AFL Photos via Getty Images

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula joined McLachlan for the announcement, saying it was not safe to rush crowds back to the MCG in less than a month.

The official announcement came as no surprise, with the AFL previously saying it wanted to play the Grand Final in front of a crowd.

McLachlan said the announcement was “not what any football loving Victorian wanted to hear”.

“But the health and safety of the wider community has been a priority throughout this season and must continue to be the priority as we all navigate* through this pandemic,” he said.

“We will be back at the MCG, bigger and better in 2022. I do want to acknowledge our supporters who have stuck by the game and stuck by their clubs in record numbers throughout the uncertainty this year. The connection they have with their clubs is unmatched in world sport.”

Grand Final Announcement media_cameraSports Minister Martin Pakula announces the 2021 AFL Grand Final relocation with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan. Picture: Ian Currie

McLachlan said Perth would “deliver the competing clubs and fans the best Grand Final experience possible.”

A start time is yet to be confirmed but the Grand Final is likely to be a twilight* event at Perth Stadium. With Perth two hours behind, this would mean a 7pm or 7.30pm start in Victoria and other eastern states.

This year’s NRL Grand Final is also on the move because of Covid-19, with an announcement expected within days to confirm the match will be relocated from NSW to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, October 3.

Matches in the first round of the AFL finals were played in Adelaide and Tasmania last weekend as Victoria remained in lockdown after the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 leaked out of NSW.

This Friday night, Geelong will tackle Greater Western Sydney in Perth, while Brisbane will play the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.

The preliminary finals will be in Perth and Adelaide the following week, on September 10 and 11, and these matches are expected to be followed by a pre-Grand Final bye.

2020 AFL Grand Final - Richmond v Geelong media_cameraThe 2020 Grand Final gets the Queensland touch as surf lifesavers carry the premiership cup into the Gabba for the match between Richmond and Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos via Getty Images

It is the second consecutive* year the AFL’s showpiece* match has been moved out of Victoria because of Covid-19 outbreaks and restrictions. It was played at the Gabba in Brisbane last year, the first time the AFL decider had been staged outside Victoria and the first time it had been played at night.

Richmond defeated Geelong in that Grand Final to claim its third flag in four years.

GLOSSARY

  • navigate: find a way
  • twilight: the time of the day just before it becomes fully dark
  • consecutive: follow one after another, in a row
  • showpiece: the main or outstanding example of something

EXTRA READING

AFL Grand Final heads to Queensland

Winners are grinners in Grand Final showdowns

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which capital city will host the 2021 AFL Grand Final?
  2. What date will the Grand Final be played?
  3. Why won’t the AFL Grand Final be played at the MCG?
  4. What is the name of the boss of the AFL?
  5. Which capital city is the NRL Grand Final expected to be relocated to?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
Imagine you are the WA Premier, Mark McGowan, and you are negotiating with the AFL to bring the Grand Final to Perth.

Write the speech you will give the AFL to convince it that Perth is the best option for the 2021 Grand Final.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Opener Up-Level It
Make a list of all the openers in the article. Pick three that repeat and see if you can replace them with another word, or shuffle the order of the sentence to bring a new opener to the front.

Don’t forget to re-read the sentence to make sure it still makes sense, and that it actually sounds better.

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