MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 03: Sophie Conway of the Lions leaves the field with medical staff during the 2023 AFLW Grand Final match between The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos and The Brisbane Lions at IKON Park on December 03, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The AFL has hit Brisbane with a monster fine for breaching the league's concussion protocols during the 2023 AFLW Grand Final.

Within a statement released from league headquarters on Wednesday evening, the AFL expressed that it fined the Lions $20,000, with $10,000 included in the club's AFLW softcap for the upcoming season.

The final $10,000 will be suspended, and only made to be paid if Brisbane's AFL or AFLW programs are found in breach of similar guidelines throughout the course of the 2024 seasons.

The financial sanction has been handed down after the Lions were found to have mismanaged Sophie Conway during the club's 17-point win over North Melbourne at Princes Park in December.

Conway was eventually found to have not suffered a concussion, however, upon completing its investigation, the league offered the following appraisal of the incident at hand.

  • With approximately three minutes to go in the 3rd quarter of the NAB AFLW Grand Final, the AFL Concussion Medical Spotter in the ARC alerted Brisbane to an incident involving Sophie Conway in which a “motor incoordination” (i.e. a stumble) was observed and thus Brisbane was required to immediately remove Conway and subject her to further assessment including a SCAT5;
  • The Brisbane doctor did not see the message from the ARC Concussion spotter and Conway played out the last part of the 3rd quarter;
  • When the Brisbane doctor was alerted to the message from the Spotter at the start of the 3-quarter time break, he undertook some assessment of Conway, with Conway telling the Doctor she lost balance due to physical exhaustion, rather than contact with any player. Whilst the Brisbane doctor was in the process of reviewing video footage of the incident, Conway was allowed to return to the field without a SCAT5 being conducted and played the first few minutes of the 4th quarter;
  • Conway was then removed from the field and subjected to a SCAT5 that did not identify any symptoms, deficits or abnormalities. Conway played out the final minutes of the match (as was the protocol available to Brisbane given the clear result of the SCAT5).

Conway and the Lions will defend their premiership upon the commencement of the 2024 AFLW season.