Fact sheet

Fact Check: The Hawks and the Giants played AFL in the snow, but was it the first time ever?

Australian rules football
As the snow began to fall at Canberra's Manuka Oval during Friday night AFL match in 2019, some spectators quickly donned ski goggles and jackets, having clearly planned ahead for the icy conditions. Hawthorn Football Club players, visiting from Melbourne to take on the Greater Western Sydney Giants, had no choice but to continue play in short-sleeve jumpers, as per coach Alistair Clarkson's "no long sleeves" rule. This prompted Australian Rules footballer and commentator Daisy Pearce to ask: "Is this the first time it's ever snowed in an AFL game?" AFL historians contacted by RMIT ABC Fact Check were unable to provide any previous examples of snow during a VFL/AFL game. As one expert told Fact Check: "It may be that this is the only game ' in living memory ' in which snow has fallen during play." Certainly, Fact Check was unable to find any evidence of snow falling on an Australian Rules competition match since the formation of the national AFL in 1990. To check whether snow may have fallen during a VFL game, Fact Check took to Trove, the National Library of Australia's archive service, to see if anything showed up in old news reports. The closest example of a VFL/AFL match played in snow comes from an 1899 article, appearing in a weekly magazine called The Australasian, which detailed brief snowfall at a VFL exhibition match (as opposed to a competition match) in Ballarat.
Verdict: Fact File
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