Renmark Football Club handed ‘harsh penalty’ over semi-final rule breach

Two men tapping legs, wearing football gear, standing on an oval

The Renmark Football Club has been fined $5,000 and docked four premiership points for the 2023 season, for a player eligibility breach during Saturday’s A-grade semi-final.

Key points:

  • The Renmark Football Club breached rules by selecting a footballer to play both A-grade and B-grade semi-finals
  • The club was fined $5,000 and had four premiership points deducted from its 2023 season
  • The Riverland Football League says the penalty is important to “set a standard” for the future

The Riverland Football League (RFL) Commission found the Renmark Football Club breached constitutional rules, after a footballer was picked to play multiple semi-finals.

The footballer played in Renmark’s B-grade semi-final the weekend before, as well as the A-grade semi-final clash against Waikerie Football Club on the weekend.

The footballer in question qualified for both grades, but RFL chairperson Mark Wright said picking the player for both matches was a breach of the rules.

“If you’ve got players that have been playing both grades all year, which is what happened with this player, you either pick them for your A-grade game or your B-grade game,” he said.

The Riverland Football League communicated the rules with all teams prior to the finals campaign.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

As a result, the Renmark Football Club was issued a $5,000 fine, half of which was suspended for two years pending any further breaches from the club.

The Rovers were also deducted four premiership points and four approved player points for the 2023 season.

“We also did consider having that match forfeited so that Waikerie would win the game,” Mr Wright said.

“But the consensus of the six commissioners was that [our decision] was the best course of action.”

Mr Wright said it was a difficult decision to make, but an important one for the future of the RFL.

“There needs to be implications if you breach those rules so we can set a standard,” he said.

Two men tapping legs, wearing football gear, standing on an oval
The Riverland Football League says it’s important a penalty was imposed, to uphold the standard for future years.(Supplied: Grant Schwartzkopff)

No formal protest

Waikerie Football Club president Aaron Thompson said the Magpies were alerted during the game about a player on the field who “possibly shouldn’t be”.

“All we did as an opposition club was email [the RFL] querying how he was allowed to be out there contradicting the rules they had sent out,” he said.

“So at no stage did we put a formal protest in and at no stage did we ask for the game to be overturned, I’m not even sure where that rumour came from.”

In previous years the semi-finals have been played on the same weekend, but this year they were separated by a week.

Mr Thompson said the RFL communicated the player eligibility ahead of the finals campaign, but he believed Renmark did not mean to break the rules.

“It’s quite a harsh penalty,” he said.

“But that’s up to the RFL commission, it’s not really up to us.”

The SANFL and Renmark Football Club have been contacted for comment.



Author: Ivan Robinson