Scheduling Clash Could Result In NRL, AFL Finals Doubleheader At Allianz Stadium
The National Rugby League "could be forced to stage an historic finals double-header at Allianz Stadium due to a potential scheduling clash" with the Austalian Football League in the first week of the play-offs, according to Adrian Proszenko of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. If the competition ladder remains as is, the Roosters, South Sydney, Canterbury and Cronulla "will host matches in week one of the NRL finals, which start a week later than the AFL play-offs." The Rabbitohs and Bulldogs "will earn the right to host games at ANZ Stadium," but the Saturday night timeslot "will be off limits." The most likely option left to league officials "is to play the two Saturday finals games back-to-back at Allianz Stadium." While doubleheaders have been played before -- most notably at the opening of ANZ Stadium and also on occasion at Suncorp Stadium -- "it would be a first for finals football." NRL Operations Manager Nathan McGuirk confirmed that "the league was looking at a range of contingency plans based on potential finals clashes." McGuirk said, "We're doing a lot of modeling on different scenarios right now and we're not ruling anything in or out" (SMH, 8/27).
DOUBLE DIP: In Melbourne, Jon Pierik wrote Melbourne Cricket Club CEO Stephen Gough said that the Melbourne Cricket Ground "would be capable" of hosting a doubleheader if the AFL opts to schedule four finals "at the famous venue" on the opening weekend of September. The AFL has asked Gough whether two finals on a Saturday could be scheduled, "with one beginning early afternoon and the second at night." There are likely to be four Victorian-based teams hosting a first final -- Geelong, Hawthorn, Collingwood and Richmond -- "and each has a large enough supporter base to insist its match be held at the MCG, rather than at the smaller Etihad Stadium." Gough said, "The question was asked: 'If it had to be, could it be done?' Well, subject to a whole lot of things which are very difficult, it's a possibility" (THE AGE, 8/27).