South African PM strikes in Sydney, NRL as AFL confirm first-ever ‘Magic Round’

South Australia has been confirmed as the venue for the first AFL Football Festival.

Based on the NRL’s Magic Round, Adelaide will host all nine AFL games over four days next April.

All 18 AFL teams will play in South Australia in the fifth round next year, with games scheduled for April 13-16.

The festival adds a series of extra games to the season, increasing from 23 to 24, with a bye for each team.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says South Africa’s Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas ‘harassed’ him to get the ‘legacy’ round as the state edged out the early favorite NSW.

Up to six matches will be played at the Adelaide Oval, while suburban venues and possibly a ground in the Barossa Valley could host the remaining matches.

“We are looking forward to not only bringing nine great games for Premiership points to South Australia, but also a festive atmosphere, filled with fan activations, family events, music, entertainment,” said said McLachlan.

“During the years of pandemic crisis, South Australia has played an important role in the survival of our game, and we are delighted to be able to bring this major footballing event to the state.

“School holidays are a great opportunity for families, and we will be working with the South African government to ensure we have free experiences and activations at games and around town.”

Jack Ginnivan. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Malinauskas said he was “so excited” that South Australia had secured the hosting rights.

“I look forward to welcoming fans from across the country to experience a truly unique football game and experience all that South Australia has to offer,” he said.

“And for football fans in South Australia, it’s a unique opportunity to experience football like never before.”

Malinauskas has had a major crack at NSW and the NRL – who have staged their magic round at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane since 2019, although the event did not take place in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The goal was to get him here first, we didn’t want to be sloppy seconds to anybody, especially Sydney,” he told reporters.

“Turn on the NRL most weekends and the crowd looks like a SANFL game.”

Matches will be confirmed later in November when the AFL publishes the 2023 game.


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