Brisbane Lions slapped with AFLW concussion breach

Justin Chadwick |

The Brisbane Lions have been fined for a concussion breach stemming from the 2023 AFLW decider.
The Brisbane Lions have been fined for a concussion breach stemming from the 2023 AFLW decider.

The Brisbane Lions have been slapped with a $20,000 fine after breaching the league’s concussion guidelines during their 17-point AFLW grand final win over North Melbourne in December.

The sanction for the “non-deliberate” breach stems from an incident involving forward Sophie Conway.

With about three minutes to go in the third quarter, the AFL’s concussion medical spotter alerted Brisbane that Conway needed to be taken off for assessment after being seen stumbling.

The Lions doctor didn’t see the message, with Conway playing out the remainder of the term.

When the doctor was alerted at three-quarter time, he undertook an assessment of Conway, in which she told him that she lost balance due to physical exhaustion, rather than contact with any player.

While the Brisbane doctor was in the process of reviewing video footage, Conway was allowed to return to the field without a SCAT5 being conducted.

Conway was then removed from the field after the opening minutes of the final term to finally undergo the SCAT5, which cleared her of concussion.

She was able to play out the match.

Sophie Conway.
Brisbane winger Sophie Conway celebrates after the Lions’ AFLW grand final win over North Melbourne. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

The AFL said that although Conway did not suffer a concussion in the incident, the sanction was imposed due to a non-deliberate breach of the protocols by the Lions.

A total of $10,000 of the fine will be included in Brisbane’s AFLW Soft Cap, with $10,000 suspended.

“The AFL is committed to protecting the health and safety of all players and requires strict compliance with concussion guidelines from our clubs,” AFL general counsel Stephen Meade said.

“Whilst we acknowledge that Brisbane’s breach was not deliberate, and Conway did not in fact suffer a concussion, we set high standards that must be met in the assessment of head trauma to avoid the risk of further injury.”

The concussion breach came just a day after the AFL announced new rule tweaks designed to further protect players’ heads.

It also comes in the wake of the NBL handing a $5000 suspended fine to the Perth Wildcats after they failed to substitute Kristian Doolittle out of a game last month immediately after he showed concussion symptoms.