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May 13, 2021

AFL boss and coach clash over club brawlHardwick has been Richmond’s senior coach since 2010. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Filed under: Outdoors — admin @ 6:03 am

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Richmond coach Damien Hardwick haven’t quite seen eye-to-eye on the nightclub brawl that left two Tigers licking their wounds.

On Monday, news emerged that Richmond duo Daniel Rioli and Shai Bolton were involved in an altercation over the weekend which left Rioli requiring stitches to his face and Bolton surgery on a fractured wrist.

The pair allege another patron’s “inappropriate behaviour” towards Rioli’s girlfriend was the catalyst for the fight.

In Monday night’s episode of AFL 360, Hardwick said while he was “disappointed” the incident had occurred, he conceded he and the club “understand these situations happen from time to time”.

“I don’t condone violence, but the reality is, put anyone in that situation, they’re going to stand up for their partner and their mates,” the three-time premiership-winning coach said.

McLachlan hasn’t been quite as forgiving.

Speaking publicly about the incident for the first time, McLachlan told reporters on Thursday that the honus is on players not to engage in physical confrontations.

“My view is – I respect Damien’s view as Damien’s view – but it’s different. I think our players, and I ask all players that they don’t condone violence and they should be walking away,” McLachlan said.

“It’s difficult at times, I know provocation exists and circumstances are always relevant, but my general position is people need to walk away and be above that.”

McLachlan confirmed the AFL Integrity Unit is continuing to investigate the incident, which will keep Bolton sidelined for 2-4 weeks as he recovers from his injury.

Hardwick told AFL 360 Rioli expects he will be fit to line up against the Giants this Saturday night for what promises to be an intriguing contest.

The Giants have recovered from a sloppy start to the year, recording three wins from their last four starts.

Meanwhile, Richmond enter the clash with a 4-4 record after eight rounds — their worst start to a season since before their three premiership wins under Hardwick.


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