The AFL has banned combat boxing and sparring between players, following a training incident which saw Hawthorn’s Mitch Lewis concussed after he was hit on the head by teammate Jacob Koschitzke earlier this year.
Lewis, who was not wearing head protection, was ruled out of action for several weeks after Koschitzke accidentally punched him in the jaw.
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The AFL subsequently launched an investigation into the accident.
The league confirmed workplace safety watchdog WorkSafe investigated the incident and was satisfied with Hawthorn’s response and does not plan to take any further action, according to afl.com.au.
The Hawks were not penalised by the AFL after the league conducted its own investigation, which included interviews with players and club officials.
However, the AFL has now cracked down on boxing to ensure there are no other training incidents, as part of the wider strengthening of its concussion protocols.
The league has told clubs combat boxing sessions and sparring between two players and/or staff is “strictly prohibited”.
Boxing training will still be allowed to be part of training sessions, but only under the AFL’s recommendations and under the supervision of “qualified personnel”.
“These new measures have immediate application and are part of the ongoing efforts of the AFL and clubs to protect the health and safety of the players,” the AFL’s general manager of football Andrew Dillon told afl.com.au.
“With the introduction of these new measures, the risk of this sort of incident occurring in the future will be significantly reduced.”
Key forward Lewis did not play at AFL between rounds 11 and 18 after the training incident, which Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson labelled an “accident”.
“Part of the things we do, whether it’s on-field or off-field, is, in actual fact, to prepare our players to protect themselves in a way that allows them to play a collision sport and do it as safely as they possibly can,” Clarkson said last month.
“To prepare them to do that, sometimes you have to put a little bit of risk into your training, whether that’s on-field or off-field.
“Now, we want to mitigate that risk as much as we possibly can and, in this instance, it was just a genuine accident.”