COVID-19 probe: Netball NSW facing big bill after Switfts and Giants breach

The Giants and NSW Swifts met in the Super Netball Grand Final Albert Perez/Getty Images

Netball NSW has taken a swipe at Netball Australia's "lack of clear protocols and processes" after being ordered to pay almost $50,000 because its Super Netball teams, the NSW Swifts and Giants, failed to follow its COVID-19 reporting requirements.

A Netball Australia investigation found the Super Netball grand finalists didn't immediately report their links to Victorian exposure sites during the 2021 season, won by the Swifts.

The teams, both owned and operated by Netball NSW, were potentially exposed to the virus while in Melbourne.

Swifts coach Briony Akle and the team physio were required to isolate for 14 days in Adelaide after being identified as close contacts of patrons who attended a Tier 1 exposure site in Melbourne.

The Giants were delayed in departing Adelaide for Brisbane after it was identified a number of players and staff had visited a Tier 1 and Tier 2 exposure site in Melbourne.

Netball NSW was fined $10,000 for the Swifts' delay in reporting their exposure link.

The organisation was also fined $10,000, with the fine suspended for two years, and ordered to pay $37,563 for the Giants additional charter and commercial flights to Queensland.

Netball NSW accepted the penalties but criticised Netball Australia for lack of clarity over protocols and processes during a season affected by ever-evolving COVID-19 rule changes.

Netball NSW said that, after completing its own investigation, it was pleased that the Swifts' non-compliance was found not to be pre-meditated.

The exposure site was not an area of concern at the time the Swifts patrons visited but was subsequently elevated to Tier 1 status by the Victorian government.

Netball NSW CEO Tain Drinkwater acknowledged errors from both teams, but said it was important they were viewed in context.

"It is clear there were delays in reporting exposure links from both our teams and we take ownership of that," Drinkwater said.

"We accept the financial penalties but welcome the acknowledgement that these were not done out of selfishness or disregard for the competition.

"They were simply human errors made in high pressure and stressful situations and that context is very important.

"While we admit the errors made at our end, we are disappointed that the public correspondence from Netball Australia gives the impression that all fault lies with the NSW Swifts and Giants, which the investigation conceded was not the case.

"The fines relate to the reporting delays and, in the case of the Giants, the extra charter flight costs and we understand our responsibility to pay those.

"But a lack of clear protocols and processes from Netball Australia during the season given the ever-evolving COVID19 changes often made life difficult for our travelling groups.

"For both the Swifts and Giants, who relocated up to five times across four different states over 67 days, it resulted in extended quarantine periods despite advice that it wouldn't be required.

"Nevertheless, our teams and staff did everything in their power to ensure the competition continued with little delay, and provided a fitting Grand Final pairing for their supporters in NSW."