The AFL’s match review panel is consistently inconsistent

Anna Pavlou Roar Rookie

By Anna Pavlou, Anna Pavlou is a Roar Rookie

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    According to Plato, “Consistency and universality are the tests of truth.” Well, the Greek philosopher would be turning in his grave with the match review panel decisions that have spanned a brutal and fierce 2017 season.

    Patrick Dangerfield accepted a one-match suspension for his tackle on Matthew Kreuzer against Carlton in Round 19.

    The seemingly innocuous tackle went unnoticed by players, commentators and fans alike, with Dangerfield himself only hearing about the issue post-match. Kreuzer didn’t miss a game.

    In the same round, Luke Hodge received a one-match ban for striking Tom Papley. This was Hodge’s third off-the-ball striking offence this year, however it was only his first suspension.

    Trent Cotchin has been found guilty twice this season for striking an opponent, yet has not been suspended. Similarly with Dustin Martin, who has struck players off-the-ball without an eyelid batted.

    What about Toby Greene, who has been found guilty and suspended for striking twice this season, reported for head-butting Isaac Heeney and cleared due to “insufficient force”. Then, when he kicked Luke Daulhaus in the face, he gets let off with a fine due to an MRP ‘interpretation’ of the offence?

    Players are cited or not cited, cleared or not cleared, suspended or fined, all based on the inconsistencies of a small group of people’s interpretations.

    The Russian roulette is alarming. So, is inconsistency the only thing the MRP gets right?

    Umpires, players, coaches and fans have no idea how the rules will be interpreted on a week-to-week basis, with similar incidents receiving dramatically different penalties and outcomes.

    How, in a professional game, can we not get the basics right?

    Have we forgotten about the leniency shown to Nat Fyfe in 2015, after his third on-field indiscretion was downgraded to allow him to remain eligible to win the Brownlow?

    What about Lance Franklin’s rough conduct on Clay Cameron in Round 12 2014, which saw him let off, even though the bump was an obvious punishable misdemeanour?

    How on earth did Ollie Wines from Port Adelaide not get suspended for his deliberate high, late hit to the head of Tom Langdon, when Langdon was not in a position to protect himself?

    Even when the MRP get it right, they still manage to get it wrong.

    Bashar Houli deserved four weeks, not the initial two he was given, for knocking Jed Lamb unconscious earlier this year.

    How does that compare to Jack Redpath’s push to the chest of Phil Davis, which cost the Bulldogs forward three weeks?

    Brodie Grundy’s tackle on Ben Brown was deemed legal by all three officiating umpires, with Grundy also receiving a free kick for holding the ball after Brown exited the field on a stretcher.

    However, Grundy received three weeks from the MRP, with the tackle being deemed ‘illegal’.

    And don’t get me started on Phil Davis, who has taken three dives this season, causing fellow players to be suspended for harmless incidents.

    It’s about time he was punished by the AFL for staging. It’s not a good look.

    Phil Davis GWS Giants Lance Franklin Sydney Swans AFL 2016

    AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

    The panel was set up to support this great game and administer the rules properly. It is now the laughing stock of Australian sport.

    The current system penalises clubs who attempt to challenge MRP decisions. You lose? You receive the full ban.

    We hear coaches explain week after week why they are hesitant to challenge unfair decisions, in fear that they will lose their battle and the punishment will be greater than originally given.

    What is this teaching coaches and players? To adjust the ways in they play in order to fit the ever-changing rules.

    Supporters must watch with great discomfort as the MRP is consistently inconsistent with decisions that really should be straightforward.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • August 23rd 2017 @ 10:43am
      me too said | August 23rd 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      Some rewriting of history here – the dangerfield tackle was all the news during the game. when it first happened it was on the periphery of the camera which was following the ball. As soon as they reviewed it the talk was all about whether he would be suspended. A similar, but cleaner, less dangerous tackle earlier in the season won st kilda’s stevens a free kick. no one mentioned the possibility of suspension – it was the perfect tackle. Stevens got suspended. Every similar tackle has since been penalised similarly. The mrp may appear to be inconsistent in how they penalise different actions, but on the arm pin, head into the turf tackle, they have been very consistent.

    • Roar Guru

      August 23rd 2017 @ 11:06am
      Pumping Dougie said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      Great article Anna, I totally agree with you. It’s a lottery. They need to get rid of these clueless former players on the MRP and replace them with people with legal qualifications, who are skilled at interpreting and applying rules consistently.

      How Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan got such light sentences for off-the-ball, unprovoked serious incidents is beyond me. How they give a fine to Toby Greene for his 3rd or 4th incident of the year, for a karate kick to the head of an oncoming opponent is ridiculous – never mind that the bloke is a serial offender.

      These 3 ugly, spiteful, cowardly incidents are the kind that we want stamped out of the game, and yet they get a slap on the wrist while Redpath gets 3 weeks for a slap on the chest. Dangerfield will join Chris Grant as a champion denied a Brownlow by imbeciles.

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 12:24pm
        I ate pies said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Bang on Pumping.

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 1:34pm
        FreoKnight said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

        Maybe the MRP is being consistent in a way with the Toby Greene kicking incident, in that MRP is protecting/giving the benefit of the doubt to the player with the ball.

        Remember that Toby Greene was jumping to get the ball from a hand pass and was likely about to be belted in tackle just after he got the ball and before he landed on the ground.

        The Toby Greene kicking incident is substantially different to the incidents where players have been penalised for dangerous tackles. In the former, the player being charged had the ball and in the later the players being charged didn’t have the ball. You cannot compare these situations.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 2:00pm
          Pumping Dougie said | August 23rd 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

          I don’t think anyone is comparing the Greene incident with other incidents and suggesting they’re similar. The point I was making is that like quite a few other incidents throughout the year, the wrong outcome was reached. The three examples I mentioned are “bad looks” for the game. If we start allowing blokes to “clear space” with karate kicks then this will filter down to other competitions, and personally, I can’t see the difference between elbowing an oncoming tackler in the head and karate kicking them, other than kicking is arguably a more offensive action.

          • August 23rd 2017 @ 5:17pm
            FreoKnight said | August 23rd 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

            I’m not here to defend Toby Greene. In fact I think he should have got a suspension too but I also am prepared to admit that perhaps there are other factors involved.

            Having said that l’m satisfied that justice has been served by a small group of highly respected recently retired AFL players looking at the incident and all the factors involved and deciding it was dangerous play that was suitably sanctioned with a fine.

    • Roar Guru

      August 23rd 2017 @ 11:18am
      Paul D said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      Loads of unsubstantiated opinion masquerading as fact (accusing Phil Davis of diving) a grabbag of assorted MRP decisions from the past few years that have obviously stuck in the author’s craw and the assumption that the MRP is automatically wrong all of the time.

      The MRP has made mistakes in initial decisions which have been corrected. Being upset about Houli’s decision when justice was done in the end and he got 4 weeks seems like complaining about an umpire saying not out initially and being overruled by DRS. Focus on the outcome. Yes there are discrepancies and inconsistencies but guess what – it is decisions made by humans, on acts committed by humans in a split second which are all unique and never identical.

      It’s very easy to walk up and defile a monument. It’s far harder to build one. People who complain about the MRP are right up there with people who complain about the umpires each week – sad, tragic, blinkered individuals who really need to step back, take a few deep breaths and find other things to do with your life.

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 11:36am
        Nathan Hook said | August 23rd 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        x2

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 12:25pm
        I ate pies said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        If you’re going have an opinion Paul, try having the decency of doing it without insulting those who disagree with you.

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 1:30pm
          Paul D said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Booooo, that’s boring

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 12:50pm
        Pumping Dougie said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

        LOL Paul. People who complain about the MRP are right up there with people who complain about the umpires each week – sad, tragic, blinkered individuals who really need to step back, take a few deep breaths and find other things to do with your life. You mean like complain about people complaining (cos it seems like that’s what you’re doing)?

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2017 @ 12:51pm
          Paul D said | August 23rd 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          If you want to play that game Dougie, you took the time to complain about me complaining about people complaining.

          It’s a race to the bottom my friend

          • Roar Guru

            August 23rd 2017 @ 1:19pm
            Pumping Dougie said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

            Nah I’m not complaining at all Paul. I’m just having a laugh. 😀

            • Roar Guru

              August 23rd 2017 @ 1:21pm
              Paul D said | August 23rd 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

              Me too – I know it’s ironic, but you can’t throw mud without getting yourself a bit dirty.

              For what it’s worth I agree with your assertion above we need more legal people involved in this process. A hardline legalistic interpretation of the rules would help avoid a lot of the complaints and perceptions about the MRP.

    • August 23rd 2017 @ 5:34pm
      FreoKnight said | August 23rd 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

      “What is this teaching coaches”

      I for one kind of like the idea that a small group of highly respected recently retired AFL players are not only challenging clubs and coaches about how they are instructing/teaching their players but also giving a couple of them a bloody nose on importaant safety issues in the game.

      I for one don’t think the way the MRP functions or is used is fully settled but I think it is pretty good start on how to give the players a strong voice on how the laws of the game, particularly those in relation to player safety, are administered and sanctioned.

      • August 23rd 2017 @ 8:33pm
        Maggie said | August 23rd 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

        I agree. The players themselves want player safety to be a high priority, particularly in regard to head injuries.

        And I also wish people who criticise the MRP would firstly ensure they know and understand the AFL Tribunal guidelines which the MRP administers. And secondly would ensure they know and understand that there are three separate and independent bodies in the tribunal process: the MRP, the Tribunal and the Appeals Board. Like many others, the author has confused these in reference to the Houli case.

      • Roar Guru

        August 23rd 2017 @ 10:50pm
        Paul D said | August 23rd 2017 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

        Yeah, that is a very well made point. It is a sort of shared brotherhood out there and these blokes all want to be able to give it their all without worrying about intentional head injuries. If anything I think deliberate striking should be much more severely penalised – make it 10 weeks, 12 weeks. punch another player in the head without warning and wear it as a badge of shame for the better part of a season.

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