A leading doctor has blasted AFL players for sharing water bottles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The AFL were already under fire for going ahead with the start of their season on Thursday night amid the crisis, with many believing it’s a bad look when the rest of society is under strict measures to stop the spread of the virus.
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So it was particularly grating when Richmond and Carlton players were seen shaking hands and sharing water bottles during the game at the MCG - two massive no-no’s amid the crisis.
The players squirted the water into their mouths rather than put their lips on the bottle.
But Dr Peter Larkins still couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“Can someone please educate afl players on the safe use of water bottles,” the leading sports physician and media personality wrote on Twitter.
“Disgraceful example to community & kids! #poorhygieneexample.”
Can someone please educate afl players on the safe use of water bottles- disgraceful example to community & kids! #poorhygieneexample— Dr Peter Larkins (@doclarkins) March 19, 2020
Three Tigers drank from the same water bottles after Castagna’s last goal ... individual bottles for training only? 🤨 #AFLTigersBlues— Sam Landsberger 🗯 (@SamLandsberger) March 19, 2020
Players still shake hands
There was also confusion about why the players still shook hands after the game.
“The guidelines were no handshaking and no hugging. Now if we want to continue to play and be an example to the rest of the public, the players need to follow those guidelines as well after the game,” former premiership player Adam Ramanauskas told ABC Grandstand.
“Yep go and talk to each other and do what you have to, but a number of guys there were slapping hands and giving each other a hug and the like.
“Let’s continue to be leaders in the community and follow the guidelines that are recommended. The players aren’t exempt from that either.”
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said the critics needed to “settle down”, while veteran reporter Jon Ralph said it was “probably not ideal, but we’ll recalibrate.”
“The players aren’t at fault with that and if a warning has to go out to them … but we can quickly move on from that sort of stuff,” Ralph told Fox Footy.
Richmond player David Astbury said the players hadn’t received a directive to avoid unnecessary contact.
“It’s probably a habit, but at the end of the day we were playing a contact sport and touching everyone anyway. We weren’t advised not to do it, but we might look at it going forward,” Astbury told AFL Nation after the game.
Teammate Dylan Grimes told ABC Grandstand: “When you consider we’ve been tackling each other and sweating all over each other and bumping into each other all game, shaking hands at the end, I think, is the least of our worries.”
Tigers outlast Blues in eerie scenes
So much is different about the world and the AFL in 2020, but at least one thing has stayed the same as Richmond launched their season with a win over Carlton.
In an eerily empty MCG due to coronavirus restrictions, the Tigers made it 10 wins in a row against the Blues, kicking off the AFL season with a 16.9 (105) to 12.9 (81) victory.
But in David Teague's first game as full-time coach, Carlton showed plenty of promise.
Having lost ruckman Matthew Kreuzer to a foot injury in the first quarter, the Blues trailed by a game-high 50 points in the third quarter.
But star recruit Jack Martin kicked four goals in the third term as the Blues kicked seven of eight goals to slice the margin to 15 points in the last quarter before the Tigers steadied.
“You give away eight free kick goals and that keeps sides in the game,” Damien Hardwick said.
“The fact of the matter was that I thought we were undisciplined, I thought we gave away cheap frees that ended up in easy goals.”