back to 20 minute quarters in 2021

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Club Legend
Aug 15, 2013
AFL Club
The AFL has advised all clubs the AFL Commission had approved recommendations presented at the scheduled Commission meeting on Wednesday December 9.

The recommendations are detailed below and include AFL Game Length, the 2021 AFL and AFLW fixtures, and the AFL and AFLW Match Review and Tribunal Guidelines.

2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Quarter Lengths:

Quarter lengths in the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season to return to 20 minutes (plus time on).

After reducing the quarter lengths in season 2020 to 16 minutes (plus time on) to provide the flexibility needed to complete the COVID-19 affected season, the AFL has returned the length of game time to that of the traditional format.

Games played in the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season will be timed as follows:

  • Four quarters consisting of twenty (20) minutes plus time-on;
Intervals are as follows:

  • ¼ time and ¾ time – six (6) minutes
  • Half time – twenty (20) minutes
  • Time after goals – fifty (50) seconds
The 20-minute (plus time on) quarter length timing will also be applied in the 2021 VFL and East Coast Second-Tier Competition.

The AFL also provided Clubs with the following update relating to the fixture for the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season and the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition.

2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Fixture:

Prior to December 23, the AFL will release Round One – Round Six of the 2021 AFL season in full including match-ups, timeslots, venues and broadcasters. This will be up to, and including, the 2021 ANZAC Round.

Round Seven – Round 23 match-ups and venues for most games will also be released, however the date, timeslot and broadcaster will remain ‘floating’.

The timing of the release of the date, timeslot and broadcaster of these matches will continue to be worked through with clubs, venues and broadcasters to ensure the right balance between flexibility and certainty in the constantly changing environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The AFL informed Clubs that, at this stage, it plans to release Round Seven – Round 23 in blocks of approximately four to six weeks with at least four weeks’ notice to allow best possible planning for all stakeholders, including fans wanting to travel to matches.

2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition:

The 2021 NAB AFL Women’s Competition will commence on Thursday January 28, 2021.

The 14-team competition will consist of nine home-and-away rounds plus three weeks of finals. This is in line with the current AFL Women’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to increase the number of matches in 2021, up from the scheduled eight rounds in 2020.

All matches will be fully ticketed for the first time as part of the continued progression of the competition and ensuring all venues are COVID-safe.

The full fixture will be released tomorrow, Friday December 11.

AFL and AFLW Match Review / Tribunal Guidelines:

The Commission approved recommendations relating to the AFL and AFLW Match Review and Tribunal to ensure the systems, guidelines and interpretations continue to evolve with the trends of the game.

The changes will see:

The definition of ‘High’ contact expanded to cover if there is a careless or intentional dangerous tackle which has the potential for injury to be caused through dangerous high contact with the ground but where high contact does not actually occur;

The guideline in relation to upgrading impact based on the potential to cause injury expanded to capture all intentional strikes (not limited to head-high strikes only); and

The ‘contesting the ball’ exception in relation to high bumps and forceful front-on contact tightened by changing the requirement that "the Player was contesting the ball and did not have a realistic alternative way to contest the ball" to "the Player was contesting the ball and it was reasonable for the Player to contest the ball in that way".



Brownlow Medallist
Sep 19, 2007
AFL Club
Other Teams
West Adelaide
Very thankful we’ve moved back to 20 min quarters. Didn’t seem like genuine football games at 16 min quarters. One of the great things about AFL I think is the endurance factor “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. One of the big challenges is how clubs deal with fatigue and manage their teams/lists.


Club Legend
Jan 23, 2013
AFL Club
Really glad it has been pushed back to 20minutes. With the shortened quarters, if you were even a couple of goals down - it felt like much more of a mountain to catch up. Almost reminded me of AFLW where goals are harder to come by.

The other rules introduced as well such as no movement on the mark will make a big difference as well. Reckon we might start seeing some more good aggressive 'slingshot' footy. Hopefully speed is in, roving maul is out.

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