Richmond pair banned for rest of AFL season after Gold Coast brawl

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Two players from Australian Football League (AFL) team Richmond Tigers were banned for the rest of the season on Friday and sent home, after being involved in a brawl near a Gold Coast strip-club as they broke COVID-19 rules on a night out.

Sidney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were suspended for 10 matches for breaching the AFL’s biosecurity protocols, the league said.

Melbourne-based Richmond and other AFL teams are based in biosecure hubs in southeast Queensland for the duration of the season, with players and staff subject to strict social distancing curbs to lower the risk of COVID-19 infections.

Stack and Coleman-Jones breached the AFL’s protocols by taking an Uber, visiting a “non-approved Gold Coast venue and becoming involved in an incident that involved Queensland Police”, the league said in a media release.

“The actions of the players are not only irresponsible but disrespectful to the competition and everyone associated with it,” AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said.

“There is simply no excuse for this breach. The two players knew the rules and chose to ignore them, putting the safety of everyone at risk.”

The league also fined Richmond A$100,000 (54,978.16 pounds), which includes A$75,000 for the players’ breach and a further A$25,000 that was suspended from a previous breach.

Richmond were fined A$45,000 in July, with A$25,000 suspended, after the wife of captain Trent Cotchin broke quarantine by visiting a day spa on the Gold Coast.

Stack was briefly detained by police and fined along with Coleman-Jones for “public nuisance” after the altercation early on Friday morning.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Himani Sarkar