Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?! - Australian Rules Football

Australian Rules Football

See also: AFL finals system, McIntyre System, and Early VFL Final systems

Playoffs are used throughout Australia in Australian rules football to determine the premiership. The term finals is most commonly used to describe them. In each league, a set number of teams, usually between four and eight, qualifies for finals based on the league ladder from the season. Australian rules football leagues employ finals systems which act as a combination between a single elimination tournament for lower-ranked teams, and a double elimination tournament for higher-ranked teams, in order to provide teams with an easier pathway to the Grand Final as reward for strong performances throughout the season. Finals are decided by single matches, rather than series.

The Australian Football League, which is the top level of the sport, currently has eight teams qualify for the finals; the finals are operated under a system designed by the league in 2000. Between 1931–1999, variants of the McIntyre System were used to accommodate four, five, six and eight teams; prior to 1930, several different finals systems were used.

In most other leagues, from state-level leagues such as the South Australian National Football League and West Australian Football League, down to suburban leagues, it is most common for either four or five teams to qualify for finals. In these cases the Page-McIntyre final four system or the McIntyre final five system are used universally.

The Australian Football League (which was then known as the Victorian Football League) was the first league to introduce regular finals when the league was established in 1897. The South Australian National Football League, introduced finals in 1898, and other leagues soon followed. Prior to this, the premiers were generally decided based on overall win-loss record, except where a playoff match was needed to break a tie.

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