MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian National Rugby League side Brisbane Broncos were slapped with A$140,000 ($101,000) in fines on Tuesday after 10 players breached biosecurity protocols by having lunch at a pub.
The NRL has strict social distancing rules to protect the competition during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Broncos players fell foul of them by dining at Brisbane's Everton Park Hotel this month.
A police investigation cleared the players of breaching Queensland state's social distancing rules, but the NRL said the Broncos were not permitted to sit in pubs or gaming areas.
However, they could have avoided the sanction if they had dined at a restaurant or a cafe, the NRL said.
NRL boss Andrew Abdo said in a statement the league had thoroughly investigated the incident.
"It is our view that this breach involved a significant failure of the club to properly administer the League’s biosecurity protocols," he said.
The Broncos, second-bottom of the standings after 11 losses from their last 12 games, have become repeat offenders in breaking COVID-19 protocols.
Forward Tevita Pangai Jnr was stood down indefinitely and fined A$30,000 after attending the opening of a Brisbane barber shop, while three staff members were fined and stood down for attending a private function at a hotel.
Broncos head coach Anthony Seibold is self-isolating after he left the team's bubble this month to deal with a personal matter.
The Australian Football League (AFL), the Australian Rules top flight, has also punished a number of biosecurity breaches since resuming in mid-June.
The Sydney Swans' teenage player Elijah Taylor was suspended for the rest of the season on Monday after sneaking his partner into his accommodation at the team's quarantine hub in Perth last week.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ed Osmond)