The AFL has today concluded its investigation into a breach of AFL Covid-19 protocols by Adelaide Crows players (x16) and Assistant Coach Ben Hart while conducting a training session with a group of Adelaide Crows players.
Given their recent travel, the players and assistant coach are presently in quarantine, required to spend 14-days in isolation in accordance with South Australia's COVID-19 regulations.
The AFL protocols, which were communicated to AFL clubs, CEOs, Football Managers, Coaches and Football department staff, make it very clear that players are not to be training in groups of more than two people. The protocols have been developed to not only protect the players and staff but also the wider community. The importance of following the protocols was reinforced in calls to CEOs and Football Managers last week.
The AFL investigation found that the breach by the players and assistant coach was inadvertent and not done to create a competitive advantage.
The investigation found the players had been compliant with the protocols for the majority of a two-hour training session where they had worked in pairs before separating into two larger groups of eight – one group to complete an 8-minute kicking drill, one group to complete an 8-minute running drill in pairs, before swapping. The kicking drill was supervised by assistant coach Ben Hart which is where the breach occurred.
The investigation found the club had provided written and verbal instructions to players and the assistant coach to comply with the protocols in place, however the assistant coach present had accepted that his instruction was not in line with either the rules or the club's instructions.
The following sanctions have been imposed by the AFL:
The 16 players have each received a suspended one match sanction. The suspended sentence will remain in place for the remainder of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership season.
Assistant Coach Ben Hart has been stood down from coaching duties for 6 weeks from today's date. He will not be able to access the club facilities or have contact with players until 22 June 2020.
The AFL acknowledges the Adelaide Crows and their players cooperation in the investigation and prompt acknowledgment of the error, as well as Assistant Coach Ben Hart's cooperation and remorsefulness.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said action taken against the 16 players and Ben Hart was pursuant to current AFL rules but said the AFL Commission had today considered strengthened protocols as part of the AFL's Rules ahead of Clubs and players returning to train and play. The protocols will be finalised in the coming days and players and clubs will be briefed on these strengthened protocols in education sessions ahead of a return to training.
"We all have a very clear responsibility to ensure we do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus. The protocols are clear and the actions in this matter, whilst not pre-planned, are a breach of them."
"We take this matter extremely seriously. We will not compromise the health and well-being of the community, and remind everyone in the industry – players, coaches, officials and staff - that they have a responsibility to adhere to the rules for the safety of everyone in the community."
The Adelaide players who have received suspended one match sanction:
1. Kyle Hartigan
2. William Hamill
3. Ayce Taylor
4. Ben Davis
5. Lachlan Sholl
6. Jordon Butts
7. Lachlan Gollant
8. Ronin O'Connor
9. Ben Keays
10. Fischer McAsey
11. Joshua Worrell
12. William Frampton
13. Tom Doedee
14. Elliott Himmelberg
15. Myles Poholke
16. Lachlan Murphy