Barty jubilant as Richmond win AFL grand final

Brisbane (Australia) (AFP) –


Defending champions Richmond Tigers crushed Geelong Cats to win the Australian Football League grand final on Saturday, culminating the sport's most turbulent and unpredictable season in decades.

World number one tennis star and staunch Tigers fan Ashleigh Barty handed skipper Trent Cotchin the trophy after Richmond won 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) for their third title in four years.

"Credit to the boys, they just continue to show the resilience that we know they can," said Cotchin.

"We came out here (Queensland) something like 110 days ago treating it like an adventure and it's been one hell of an adventure. To finish off like this is simply outstanding."

Both clubs are from Victoria and ordinarily the decider of Australia's most popular spectator sport would be played at the cavernous Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 100,000 fans.

But all sides from the state -- who make up most of the 18-team ladder -- have been forced to play their games elsewhere this season after a resurgence of Covid-19 in Victoria.

That meant Brisbane's famed cricket ground the Gabba hosted the final -- only the second time since World War II it has not been at the MCG -- with just 30,000 spectators allowed.

Queensland-based Barty is a devoted Tigers fan and said ahead of the game she was honoured to be asked to hand over the trophy.

"I have loved watching the Tigers on my travels, supporting them has been a constant source of enjoyment for me on the road," she said.

"I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity."

Barty would usually be busy playing tennis, but opted against defending her French Open title over coronavirus fears and also missed the US Open.

Richmond's win culminated a bizarre season that began in March but was called off after just one match due to the pandemic, unprecedented for a sport that first established a league in 1896.

A dynamic game similar to Ireland's Gaelic football, it resumed in mid June.

But with the virus flaring up again in Melbourne, all teams were forced to base themselves outside of Victoria, with many spending more than 100 days on the road.