The AFL draft is an annual ceremony in which AFL teams choose new players to join their squads from a pool of fresh talent.
A drafting system for the AFL was first conceived in 1981. Originally, it was determined that each team would get two selections from potential interstate players. The first pick was awarded to the team that finished at the bottom of the ladder in order to equalise the distribution of talent throughout the Victorian Football League (precursor to the current AFL). The first draft was actually held in 1986.
When the AFL developed in 1990, the draft was a tradition that carried over. The AFL continues to hold it annually in November so potential picks have time to finish up their school exams before being drafted. The order of the draft is still determined by the AFL ladder with the team finishing on the bottom rung taking the first pick. Though, there have been a few changes in the rules since that first draft in held over 20 years ago.
AFL Draft Rules
There are a few rules when it comes to the AFL draft, most of which surround player eligibility. Here’s a quick run down of some of the most important AFL draft rules:
Player Eligibility: Originally, in order to be eligible for the draft, potential picks had to be 17 years old on or before April 30 of their drafted year. Though, due to growing concerns of younger draftees playing footy in other states, the draft age was raised to 18 in 2009. Currently, a player must be 18 on or before April 30 the year following the National Draft. Players who are not 18 before December 31 of a draft year must be contracted for a minimum of two years.
Father-Son Rule: This rule was introduced to ensure that family traditions were upheld when it comes to footy, as sons of fathers that played for any given club could be selected by that club regardless of zoning rules. In order to be eligible for the Father-Son Rule, the father had to have played at least 100 games for the club. All other teams are allowed to bid on the son. The team that wishes to draft the son then has to match the highest bid with their next available draft selection.
Priority Draft Pick Rule: This rule was introduced in 1993 to help equalise the playing field. It states that teams that perform poorly throughout the season gain additional selections between the first and second rounds. There’s some controversy surrounding this rule as some have accused other teams of throwing games near the end of the season in order to gain priority picks in the upcoming draft.
Number One Draft Pick: This rule goes hand in hand with the abovementioned Priority Draft Pick as it too was designed to help level the playing field. The Number One Draft pick rule states that the first pick in the draft is awarded to the team that finishes at the bottom of the AFL ladder unless another team wins less than 4.5 games over the course of two consecutive seasons. If a team wins less than 4.5 games, they’re awarded the first draft pick regardless of their position on the AFL ladder. After this team has taken the first pick, the order continues as normal.
Rookie List: This is a list consisting of six rookies (nine for Sydney and Brisbane) that can both play in the pre-season competition and be named as long-term injury replacements during the regular season.
Betting and the AFL Draft
When it comes to betting, the AFL draft is extremely important. It’s an opportunity for struggling teams to get a shot of new talent that could very well turn around the upcoming season. It’s also a chance for strong teams to fortify their talent and start training up and coming stars.
Drafting a particularly talented new player can boost a team’s odds. So can gaining a new line of reinforcements. These new players can help you determine how a team will play when the new season rolls around, so keep a close eye on the AFL draft particularly if you want to bet on AFL fixtures.