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The AFL Draft is the annual draft of new unsigned players by Australian rules football teams that participate in the main competition of that sport, the Australian Football League.



When the competition was known as the Victorian Football League (VFL), the league introduced the first incarnation of a draft system in 1981, where teams had two selections each of interstate players determined by reverse finishing position order.[1] This was introduced as an equalisation strategy in response to the increasing transfer fees and player salaries at the time, which in combination with declining attendances, threatened to derail the league. It was also a result of the failure of country zoning, introduced in the late 1960s, which had led to a systematic inequality whereby the clubs with the best zones, like Carlton and Hawthorn, could dominate over clubs with poorer zones like Melbourne.

In 1986, the first VFL Draft was held. The draft saw players tied to zones based on their location of residence, with each club having first call on players falling within that zone. The West Coast Eagles received access to 35 West Australian players with no more than 6 players from any single WAFL club, while the Brisbane Bears received 6 concessionary picks before the other clubs.


In the AFL Draft, clubs receive picks based on the position in which they finish on the ladder during the season. The draft is held each year at the end of November, to allow the draftees to finish their school examinations before being drafted.[2]



Currently to be eligible for the draft, a player must be at least 17 years of age on or before 30 April in the year in which they are drafted. This has been slowly increased over the past few years due to concerns about school age players potentially having to leave home to play football in another state. For the 2009 draft the eligibility age has been increased by 4 months so players must be 18 on 31 December in the year in which they are drafted. Meaning that players who turn 18 during their first months of Year 12 will be able to finish studying without the pressure of AFL.[3]

Priority draft pick rule

The priority draft picks were first introduced in the 1993 AFL Draft as a special assistance rule to aid teams that perform poorly to obtain additional early draft selections. In recent years this has led to accusations that teams that are not in finals contention are happy to lose games at the end of the season to earn the additional selection.[4] In 2005 the AFL changed the rules such that from the 2006 AFL Draft the priority selection would be awarded between the first and second round, unless the team had performed poorly over two consecutive seasons, in which case it would receive an additional selection before the first round.[5]

Father-son rule

To continue the traditions of association that a family has with a particular club, sons of former players are able to be selected by the same club as their father played with under the Father-Son Rule. The main eligibility requirements is that the sons father must have played 100 games for that club, although there are some variations in place for non-Victorian based clubs. Originally they were selected as pre-draft selections, then the rules were changed to force the clubs to use a third round draft selection to draft the son. Currently there is a bidding system, where any team that wishes to draft a son must allow all other clubs to bid for him, and then match the bid with their next available selection.[6]

Number 1 draft picks

The number 1 draft pick is currently awarded to the bottom-placed team, though in some cases it is traded. Despite the expectations of the number 1 pick, not all number 1 picks have forged successful careers. Adam Cooney was the first #1 draft pick to be awarded the prestigious Brownlow Medal in 2008.

Number 1 draft picks:

Pre-season draft

Rookie draft

Held at the same time as the pre-season draft, the rookie draft is a chance for clubs to recruit players under 23 for their Rookie list. Rookies are usually picked as young, developing players and can be elevated from the rookie list during the year, if there is a long term injury or retirement to a senior player in the team. Once the rookie is elevated, he remains that way until the end of the year, where they can be officially upgraded to the senior list, or kept on as a second year rookie, or delisted/not offered a new contract. Most teams have 6 rookies, but Brisbane and Sydney have more, and other teams may have more or less depending on the number of veterans on their list.

Some of the most successful players (having achieved 100 or more games or 100 goals) from the rookie system[7] include:

International rookies

Rookies are also available to be selected from overseas countries and players on the list do not count towards the salary cap. Notable examples are Irish players Colm Begley and Martin Clarke and Canadian Mike Pyke.

In 2006, the AFL introduced a new scheme where clubs can maintain 2 international rookies (excluding Irish players) outside of the regular rookie list.

See also


  1. ^ The draft blows in, Emma Quayle, The Age, November 17, 2006.
  2. ^ Foreman, Glen (25 November 2008). "Fremantle Dockers coach Mark Harvey raises concerns over draft".,21598,24704682-5005401,00.html. Retrieved 28 November 2008.  
  3. ^ "AFL approves draft, trading rule changes". 30 April 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.  
  4. ^ Gill, Katrina; Tanking talk ‘pathetic’, says Demetriou; 20 June 2008
  5. ^ docs/afl hq/annual reports/2005/Football Operations.pdf 2005 AFL Football Operations Annual Report; p40
  6. ^ Father-Son Rule
  7. ^

External links


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