The 2016 AFL Cairns fixture has now been finalised with the season commencing on Saturday, 2nd April 2016. The competition returns to a 21 round season with Manunda Hawks returning to the Competition and in an exciting expansion, Pyramid Power joining AFL Cairns in Reserve Grade.
The Reserves Competition will see eight (8) Clubs competing, with Gordonvale based Pyramid Power joining in 2016 on the back of a successful junior affiliation since 2005. The introduction of the Power side was formally ratified at an AFL Cairns Extraordinary meeting in December 2015. The growth of both our sport and the southern corridor of Cairns has accelerated their introduction into open age football.
In light of this, the Reserves Fixture will see each Club play each of the other seven (7) Clubs three times throughout 2016, with no Reserve Team Byes, only the two (2) General AFL Cairns Byes, totalling a 21 Round Home & Away Season.
The Senior Competition will see each Club play the other six (6) Clubs three (3) times throughout 2016 with three (3) scheduled Senior Team Byes as well as two (2) General AFL Cairns Byes, totalling a 21 Round Home & Away Season.
Whilst the season proper gets underway with matches on Saturday, 2nd April, Clubs will compete in the annual XXXX Gold Preseason competition on Saturday, 12th and Saturday, 19th March 2016, before a break over the Easter weekend in preparation for Round 1.
To open 2016, Round 1 will see the Grand Final replay at Fretwell Park between South Cairns and Cairns Saints while North Cairns will play Cairns City Lions at Watsons Oval with Manunda Hawks hosting Port Douglas in a twilight Fixture at Cazalys Stadium.
In the Reserves, 2015 Reserves Premiers Centrals Trinity Beach will take on Pyramid Power at Cazalys Stadium in the Power’s first ever Senior Match.
Round 4 will see the traditional ANZAC Day clash played on Monday, 25th April at Watsons Oval between North Cairns and South Cairns, whilst the other Round 4 marches will be played on Saturday, 23rd April at Griffiths Park and Crathern Park.
Round 8 will see Cairns City Lions’ Dreamtime by the Sea Match against North Cairns to be played at Holloways Beach Sporting Complex to align with the AFL’s Indigenous Round on Saturday, 28th May. This day embraces the wider community and features traditional indigenous cultural activities, including Welcome to Country and indigenous music and dance. It has been a brilliant spectacle in years gone past.
There are four (4) Sunday matches in 2016; Centrals Trinity Beach host Cairns Saints in Round 3, the Lions play Hawks on Mother’s Day in Round 5, with North Cairns hosting Port at Watsons Oval in Round 10 and the Saints playing South Cairns at Griffiths Park in Round 16. The Sunday fixtures will see junior matches, from Under 6s to Under 15s, played in the morning prior to the Reserves then Seniors taking to the field, creating a ‘Super Sunday’ atmosphere.
Manunda Hawks will host the only twilight fixtures in 2016 at Cazalys Stadium, with matches against Port Douglas in Round 1, North Cairns in Round 6 and Centrals Trinity Beach in Round 18. Twilight matches commence at 3:00pm for Reserves and 5:00pm for Seniors.
2016 will see three (3) night matches throughout the year with Manunda Hawks hosting two (2) at Cazalys Stadium against Cairns Saints in Round 2 and North Cairns in Round 13 both on Friday Night, while Cairns Saints will host Manunda Hawks on Cairns Show Even Public Holiday (Thursday, 21st July) at Cazalys Stadium. Night Matches commence at 6:00pm for Reserves and 8:00pm for Seniors.
AFL Cairns Representative arrangements for 2016 will once again see the Intra-League match between AFL Cairns All Stars and AFL Cairns Indigenous/South Pacific take place on Friday, 29th April under lights at Cazalys Stadium. This weekend is one of AFL Cairns General Byes for Season 2016 (Saturday, 30th April), still allowing Clubs to have the Labour Day long weekend off! In addition to the All-Stars Intra-League match, AFL Cairns players will once again take part in the North Queensland vs. South Queensland fixture which in 2016 will be played as a Curtain-Raiser to the AFL Premiership Match on Saturday, 16th July, here in Cairns. The North Queensland team will be selected from the Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Mt Isa regions. Cairns players have made up over 75% of the NQ team in 2014 and 2015 and will expect to account for around the same percentage of the side this year.
AFL Cairns second General Bye for all Clubs will be on Saturday, 16th July, allowing players, supporters and volunteers the opportunity to attend the Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast SUNS AFL match at Cazalys Stadium.
The 2016 season culminates with a top-four final series at Cazalys Stadium in September, with Grand Final Day scheduled for Saturday, 24th September 2016.
In releasing the 21-round draw, AFL Cairns Operations Manager Sean Hunter, is excited by the jam-packed year ahead. “Season 2016 shapes to be another exciting year of football in Cairns. It’s fantastic to see expansion in our competition with the introduction of Pyramid Power into Reserve Grade. The addition of the Power into our competition has brought about an exciting change and a new dynamic to our overall competition. It is anticipated they will field Reserves only for the next two seasons and grow further with a senior side as well from 2018”
AFL Cairns Operations Manager believes the fixture is well balanced for all footy lovers in Cairns. However, Hunter also said it is important to realise and where possible accommodate the desires of the member Clubs. “It’s always a challenge to accommodate the requests of all Clubs as there are many long standing traditions within the competition now that need to be accommodated. Souths and Norths always meet on Anzac Day, Lions and Norths always play to coincide with AFL Indigenous Round and it’s always played at Holloways Beach Sporting Complex while Centrals and Norths always meet at Crathern Park late May for the Wayne Jackson Memorial match. These long standing arrangements are important to the Clubs and to the competition.”
Hunter also added “Notwithstanding history, it’s exciting to see Clubs initiate new match-ups for 2016, like Cairns City Lions hosting Manunda Hawks on Mother’s Day at HBSC, while on the same weekend Port Douglas will be supporting Pink Footy Day and their traditional Navy Blue will be swapped for pink in support of Breast Cancer Australia. These new initiatives create a real buzz around the football community.”
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