AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says Sydney’s amazing consistency makes a mockery of the competition’s equalisation measures and other clubs could learn from the Swans.
McLachlan was speaking before Saturday’s qualifying final at ANZ Stadium, which he hoped would signal the first match of a great finals rivalry between the two Sydney clubs.
While paying tribute to the Giants for making their first finals, McLachlan praised the incredible consistency of their more-established cross-town rivals.
Sydney have made the past seven finals series, 13 of the most-recent 14 and 18 of the past 21.
Such consistency has flown in the face of the supposed impact of equalisation measures such as the salary cap and draft.
“That sort of consistency is rare in the AFL – I’m not talking about the match review panel review,” McLachlan quipped.
“It’s a remarkable achievement and makes a mockery of our equalisation policies.
“While many clubs talk of rebuilding, the Swans keep doing it before the house falls down.
“It’s a novel approach – maybe it will catch on elsewhere.”
McLachlan praised the AFL Commission for its foresight in recommending a team be placed in western Sydney.
“Their belief that our game could gain a foothold in western Sydney is a generational and bold and brave decision that is starting to bear fruit,” McLachlan said.
“But we know how much hard work there is still to do.”
McLachlan rattled off a number of statistics to underline the growth of the game in NSW, a rugby league-dominated state that was slow to embrace AFL.
He said for the first time, more than 500,000 people had attended games in NSW and the ACT in one season.
“Both clubs posted record membership numbers and, importantly, their growth rates are amongst the highest in the league,” McLachlan said.
“Participation at community level is over 220,000 – a growth of five per cent.
“The academies are producing great players and, for Sydneysiders, that has the added benefit of annoying (Collingwood president) Eddie (McGuire).”