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Richmond Tigers coach Damien Hardwick 'went off his head' and allegedly verbally abused VFL players

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Richmond coach Damien Hardwick ‘got his head’ and allegedly assaulted VFL players in an outburst – and the AFL could investigate

  • Hardwick attended the Tigers’ VFL clash with Williamstown at Punt Road
  • There was an incident in the first quarter where players push and struggle
  • The Tigers coach is said to have verbally abused the players involved
  • Williamstown has asked the club for answers and the AFL may be involved

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Richmond has been given an ‘explain’ message and the AFL Integrity Unit could become involved after Tigers coach Damien Hardwick allegedly abused Williamstown players during their VFL clash at Punt Road over the weekend.

It was a comfortable 55-point win for Richmond’s VFL side, played on a soggy Punt Road pitch where the Tigers held Williamstown to just two goals in their 10.14 (74) to 2.7 (19) win.

But the result was soured by the alleged exchange that happened minutes into the first quarter.

A Williamstown official told the Herald Sun that multiple fans attended the incident, while onlookers said Hardwick “went off his head.”

“He verbally assaulted one of the Williamstown players because of a hit early in the first quarter… there was a sort of verbal altercation where ‘Dimma’ verbally insulted the player,” the official said.

Richmond's Rhyan Mansell pushes Williamstown's Darby Henderson into the fence

Richmond’s Rhyan Mansell pushes Williamstown’s Darby Henderson into the fence

Another eyewitness claimed that Hardwick “got his head off in front of about 70 people.”

“He labeled two players ‘weak bastards’ and told them, ‘Come here and I’ll show you how strong you are,'” the spectator told the Herald.

Richmond has denied that Hardwick used those words.

Fans reported Hardwick’s first-quarter outburst to Williamstown officials during the quarter.

Williamstown's Joel Ottavi gets involved before Mansell is knocked to the ground

Williamstown's Joel Ottavi gets involved before Mansell is knocked to the ground

Williamstown’s Joel Ottavi gets involved before Mansell is knocked to the ground

The club is seeking clarification from Richmond after the embarrassing exchange, which could also be investigated by the AFL.

Tigers officials did not comment on whether Hardwick would be fined or sanctioned for his alleged behaviour.

During the incident, Richmond player Rhyan Mansell pushed Williamstown player Darby Henderson into the border fence advertisement unnecessarily.

Players both got into a struggle with Richmond awarded by officials

Players both got into a struggle with Richmond awarded by officials

Players both got into a struggle with Richmond awarded by officials

Williamstown teammate Joel Ottavi came in to protest against Mansell before Henderson got up and knocked Mansell to the ground.

That led to a series of pushing and wrestling between players from both sides and eventually a free kick to Richmond for rough behavior.

The microphones on the pitch did not pick up any of Hardwick’s alleged comments.

Hardwick was on the ground and the club have confirmed he was involved in an altercation but deny using the language reported by spectators and officials

Hardwick was on the ground and the club have confirmed he was involved in an altercation but deny using the language reported by spectators and officials

Hardwick was on the ground and the club have confirmed he was involved in an altercation but deny using the language reported by spectators and officials

Immediately after the incident, several voices could be heard from the sidelines making aggressive comments in the piece, but it was not clear enough to distinguish what was being said or who was saying it.

Richmond has released a statement regarding the incident.

“The club acknowledges that there was an altercation following an incident in the first quarter in which a Williamstown player was reported for rough conduct,” Richmond said.

“As far as the club is concerned, that’s it.”

Hardwick was previously investigated by the AFL Integrity Unit over a verbal altercation with Adelaide Crows supporters in 2018.

In that incident, Hardwick walked down the stairs from the coach’s box to the oval after his side was defeated by 36 points in their grand final rematch against the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

He stopped in his tracks after hearing a comment from a Crows supporter and was involved in a verbal thrust, also feigning a headbutt to intimidate the supporter and his mate.

Hardwick then turned the supporter out to security.

After investigating the incident, the AFL Integrity Unit decided that no further action was required.