In a nutshell

All is well at Tigerland. A second cup in the cabinet in three years and a VFL flag to boot made 2019 a highly successful season for Richmond.

What we said in the pre-season

Thirteen of the 15 journalists had Richmond making the Grand Final, with eight of those 13 predicting a flag. A number of players – including Ivan Soldo, Liam Baker, Sydney Stack, Shai Bolton and Marlion Pickett – weren't in the side's best 22 at the start of the year. In fact, Pickett wasn't even on the list.

GRAND FINAL MATCH REPORT Orange crushed as Tigers roar again

What worked 

The combination of Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo wasn't tried in 2019 until the finals (in part due to Nankervis' adductor injury), but it gave Richmond a new look, including an increased dominance at centre bounces, a traditional weakness.

The twin towers
The past few years have seen Jack Riewoldt pretty much play as a lone tall forward, with Josh Caddy or Dustin Martin in the goalsquare. The addition of Tom Lynch spread the load well and provided another very strong scoring option.

Optimus Grimes
Dylan Grimes had a career-defining year. When star defender Alex Rance went down with an ACL injury in round one, it thrust the previously unheralded stopper into a key intercept role, which he performed so well he was named All Australian.

THE MOMENT How the Tigers got their Hollywood ending

What failed

Blowout losses a worry
Premierships certainly aren't won in March or April, but the Tigers made it tough for themselves by dropping early games badly before the injuries started piling up. They lost consecutive games to Collingwood and GWS by over 40 points, which is rare.

Balta the defender
This year saw the AFL debut of the talented but raw Noah Balta who, between the seniors and reserves, played nearly every position on the park. He was sent to defence a few times this year at the top level because of injuries and is just not quite ready yet.

Yet to master Marvel
Marvel Stadium has been a thorn in Richmond's side for a number of years now, particularly against tenant clubs North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. The Tigers lost by an average of 42 against the pair this year.

Overall rating


Twelve straight wins to finish the year and one of the most comprehensive Grand Final victories in memory.

The coach

Another very strong year for Damien Hardwick, who has another two seasons on his contract. Opposition clubs would be envious at the bond he has developed with his players, while the kids who debuted this year showed promising signs.


Dion Prestia: A stellar year from Prestia, who played all possible games for the first time since 2014. Averaged 27 disposals and six clearances a match and is one of the favourites for the Jack Dyer medal.

Surprise packet

Ivan Soldo: Big Ivan mark two proved he is an AFL player this year. Given a consistent run of games at the top level with Toby Nankervis' injury, Soldo's tap work and conversion in front of goal impressed. He also forced Richmond into keeping him in the side on Nankervis' return.

Get excited

Sydney Stack: What a debut year from Stack. Having earned an opportunity as a pre-season supplementary period rookie, Stack played at both ends of the ground and in the middle, where his toughness, tenacity and flashes of brilliance have already made him a fan favourite.


Dan Butler: Was overtaken in the small forward pecking order by Shai Bolton and Liam Baker (until his move to defence) and struggled to force his way into the side, playing just seven games. Is expected to look for greater opportunity elsewhere this off-season.

Best win

Grand Final: Richmond 17.12 (114) d. GWS 3.7 (25)
The Tigers completely demolished the Giants, absorbing the pressure before counterpunching in devastating fashion in a mature performance. Winners all over the park and a revealed a new cult hero in debutant Marlion Pickett.

WHO TORE IT APART? Every Tiger rated from their record Grand Final win

Best individual performance 

Tom Lynch. Preliminary final v Geelong
This was why Tom Lynch was recruited from Gold Coast. The spearhead was a dominant force when the Tigers needed a hero, providing a strong marking target up the ground. He finished the match with 19 disposals, 10 marks and five goals.

Low point

There were a few ugly losses by undermanned sides, but the 67-point thrashing by Geelong in round 12 was the worst. Did very well to hold the Cats to just two points in the first quarter, but just capitulated after that.

The big questions 

Can Richmond go back-to-back?

Where will Dustin Martin spend most of his 2020, up forward or in the middle?

Who makes way to fit Alex Rance back into the side?

Season in a movie title

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – A flag in 2017, crashing out in the preliminary final last year, followed by another premiership.

Who's done?

Retirements: Shaun Grigg

Delistings: TBC

Unsigned free agents: Shane Edwards, Brandon Ellis, Jacob Townsend (rookie)

WHO'S HANGING UP THE BOOTS? Your club's retirements and delistings

How should they approach trade and draft period? 

The Tigers don't need to add an awful lot to their list, but after drafting four midfielders last year, may look to bolster their young key position stocks.

Early call for 2020

Why not go for the double? With quality players waiting in the wings, including five-time All Australian Alex Rance, there's no ceiling on these Tigers at the moment.