The AFL’s match review panel is consistently inconsistent

Anna Pavlou Roar Rookie

By , 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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