Wildcard Round introduced as 2023 VFL season dates announced

By AFL.com.au. 

The AFL has confirmed the season dates for the 2023 Smithy’s Victorian Football League (VFL) campaign, with a Wildcard Round introduced to determine the last two spots in the finals.

The 2023 Smithy’s VFL season will commence on the weekend of March 25-26, aligning with Round Two of the 2023 Toyota AFL Premiership season.

The home and away season will consist of 22 rounds, with all teams to play 18 matches and have four byes.

The 2023 Smithy’s VFL Grand Final is scheduled to be played on Sunday, September 24, the weekend before the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final, which will be played on Saturday, September 30.

The AFL can confirm the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season will again feature 21 teams from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

All teams who competed during the 2022 season will feature in the competition in 2023. The composition of clubs for the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season will be:

VFL standalone clubs: Coburg, Frankston, Northern Bullants, Port Melbourne, Southport Sharks, Werribee and Williamstown

AFL aligned clubs: Box Hill Hawks, Casey Demons and Sandringham

AFL standalone clubs: Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Footscray Bulldogs, Geelong Cats, Gold Coast SUNS, GWS GIANTS, North Melbourne, Richmond and Sydney Swans


An exciting new feature for the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season will be the introduction of a Wildcard Round.

The Wildcard Round will be played across the weekend of August 26-27, following the final round of the home and away season.

The Wildcard Round will feature two matches. The team that finishes the home and away season in seventh position on the ladder will play the team that finishes 10th, while eighth will take on ninth.

The two winners will advance to the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Finals Series, with the highest-ranked winner during the Wildcard Round to enter the finals as the seventh-placed team.

The top-six teams on the Smithy’s VFL ladder will have a pre-finals bye during Wildcard Round, ahead of the commencement of the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Finals Series on the weekend of September 2-3.

The opening weekend of the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Finals Series, featuring the qualifying and elimination finals, will be played during the AFL pre-finals bye.

AFL Head of State League Competitions Jennie Loughnan said: “The introduction of the Wildcard Round will provide an exciting new element to the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season.

“With 21 teams competing in the Smithy’s VFL, the addition of the Wildcard Round provides more teams the opportunity to contend for finals.

“We expect the Wildcard Round to create more anticipation and excitement for competing clubs and football fans throughout the home and away season, with more sides remaining in finals contention later into the regular season.

“We are extremely proud of the rich tradition and history of the VFL and its clubs, and are also open to exploring exciting new opportunities, such as the Wildcard Round, for clubs, players and fans involved within the competition.”

With the season dates confirmed, the fixture for the 2023 Smithy’s VFL season will be locked in and published as soon as finalised.

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