Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 Fixture and History

We're still a little over two months away from the start of the 2017 AFL home and away season. Just as they did last season, Richmond meets Carlton in the first match to be played. It's always an exciting time, as every team is excited about the future. Richmond tries to rebound after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and Carlton looks to take another step forward after taking some lumps over the last few years.

In 2015 Richmond put together a long winning streak in order to get into the playoffs after a slow start. With a win-loss record of 15-7, the Tigers lost to North Melbourne in an elimination final. Carlton had a rough time of it, sacking coach Mick Malthouse midseason and taking the wooden spoon after finishing in last position on the ladder.

With that as a background, Richmond beat the Blues 92-83 in the 2016 opener. Neither team made the eight last year, as the Tigers slid to 13th on the ladder. The Blues and their new coaching staff started out 5-5 but a nine-game losing streak sent things spiraling out of control. They finished with seven wins, stayed out of the bottom four and finished just behind the Tigers in 14th position.

The history of these two sides goes way back. The Tigers began play in the Tasmanian Football League in 1879 and joined the VFA (Victorian Football Association) in 1885. Carlton was a founding member of the VFA in 1864 and jumped to the newly-formed Victorian Football League in 1897, while Richmond joined the VFL in 1908. This may help explain why the Blues have played other teams more often than they've played Richmond.

Carlton has played five other teams more often than the 216 matchups with the Tigers while Richmond has played the Blues more than any other opponent in the competition. Carlton leads the all-time series 125-89-2, so this really seems like an interesting tilt to get the season going.

A cursory look back at the last few years sees that the AFL doesn't seem to place a priority on two particular sides playing every season opener. Collingwood/Fremantle started 2014 and Adelaide met Essendon in 2013. However this is the third straight time Blues/Tigers has had the honors.

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