Spoiling the spectacle: Why the AFL needs a send-off rule

keith hurst Roar Rookie

By keith hurst, keith hurst is a Roar Rookie

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    All professional ball sports allow umpires and referees to protect players from foul play.

    The sanctions are usually penalties that give the ball to the non-offending team or moving them closer to the scoring areas of the ground.

    Cricket and golf are seen as non-confrontational, so do not see the necessity for harsh measures – although in the case of cricket, a confrontation between a bowler and batsman is fairly common.

    Football, the rugby codes and basketball allow their officials to remove players from the field for foul play.

    This acts as a deterrent, to stop teammates getting ideas about repeating the act, removes an unruly player from the game so as to stop them ruining the game with violence, and keeps spectators from acting like idiots on the sideline.

    In addition, it helps with PR, as it prevents parents from making those ‘I would not let my child play such a violent game’ comments.

    As for the AFL, while the code has an extensive list of penalties, there is no send-off rule.

    Andrew Gaff’s punch, which broke Andrew Brayshaw’s jaw and ruined his mouth, merited a suspension for the offender of eight weeks. But Gaff was allowed to continue to play on the day, and the game was ruined with running incidents, as the Fremantle team tried to get square.

    Surely removing Gaff from the field would have reduced the square-ups and the derby could have ended up as a competitive game.

    The other relevant point is that Brayshaw will be eating from a straw for four weeks and will require regular treatment on his mouth, which will last longer than the eight weeks. It therefore appears that Gaff got away relatively cheaply, while Brayshaw has not.

    It’s time for a change to the rules, allowing a player to be removed if they have committed intentional foul play. What harm can it do? The tribunal is always there to review the offence and determine further penalties.

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • Roar Pro

      August 10th 2018 @ 3:28am
      anon said | August 10th 2018 @ 3:28am | ! Report

      If in MMA you punched your opponent between rounds and broke his jaw, smashed his teeth, you’d be thrown out of the sport for life and likely facing criminal charges.

      That’s a sport where the object is to concuss your opponent.

      It’s a poor reflection on Australian culture, the inherent aggression and violence that exists in Australian men, and the warped values of our society where an 8 game suspension is some how an equitable punishment for inflicting gruesome head injuries via a brutal one-punch attack.

      It wasn’t 24 hours before people started rationalising the violent attack, claiming that Gaff is really a good guy who made a bad mistake (he’s not a good guy any longer), claiming that Gaff aimed for the chest (he aimed for the jaw the height difference is an optical illusion), and most disgusting of all were people who implied that Brayshaw was partly at fault because “midfielders are sick and tired of being scragged off the ball”.

      What Brayshaw did to Gaff would barely be considered a hand check in basketball.

      The AFL just needs serious penalties for illegal incidents on the field and to enforce those penalties consistently.

      What gets me is the fuss kicked up by everyone a month ago about those FIlipino basketballers.

      None of them caved an Aussie player’s face in, you could argue that they were provoked by the Aussie player that dropped the shoulder into the Filipino. Gaff acted with no provocation and the injuries he inflicted were far worse than anything the Filipinos did to the Boomers.

      Yet everyone wanted the Philippines side suspended from international basetball, people wanted criminal charges laid, we tut-tutted saying that would never happen here.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 10:39am
        Glenn said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        Philippino players? They had coaching staff throwing chairs, while multiple players and other coaching staff for punching a guy that was laying on the floor. Bad example. Yes the guy that bumped at the beginning was an Aussie that should have been ejected from the game, but the ridiculous overreaction by the Philippino players and staff could have killed someone. Yes, the whole team should have been banned from International basketball for a reasonable period of time, but I saw nothing in what the Aussies did that should have seen more than probably 2 players ejected from the game. Yes, the injury to Brayshaw might have been worse than anything the Aussies suffered, but that wasn’t through lack of trying by their opponents. Pick another example – you currently have no argument.

        • Roar Pro

          August 10th 2018 @ 11:21am
          anon said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          If the Filipinos wanted to hurt the Aussie players they would have.

          They didn’t. Barely a scratch at the end of the day.

          Again, people are discounting the seriousness of these one-punch assaults where the victim isn’t expecting to be it.

          At the end of the day, the Filipinos acted after being provoked.

          Gaff chose to assault someone without provocation.

          The Australian public wanted the Filipinos thrown out of the game, hauled before the courts.

          Gaff though is a great guy.

          • Roar Guru

            August 10th 2018 @ 12:44pm
            Paul Dawson said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

            You sound surprised at the revelation Australia is a racist nation

            you shouldn’t be. it has been ever since federation and long before that as well.

            • Roar Pro

              August 10th 2018 @ 1:32pm
              anon said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              Definitely an eIement of racism in the vitriol towards the Filipinos (deserved in my opinion), but I think the reaction from the AFL boys club would be different if Gaff wasn’t an elite player from Melbourne who went to a $30k per year high school.

              I’ve lost a lot of respect for the opinions of ex-players in the media this week. To man they’ve brushed Gaff’s actions aside and redirected their vitriol to the public and media.

              Gill has been absolutely gutless and nowhere to be found on this.

              You could only imagine the reaction is Majak Diaw caved Andrew Gaff’s face in in an unprovoked one punch assault off the ball.

              • Roar Guru

                August 10th 2018 @ 1:43pm
                Paul Dawson said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                See I don’t think Gill could have added much – if he started moralising about red cards and huffing and puffing he’d sound like Turnbull and his bonking ban after he finally acknowledged publicly what he’d known for months about Barnaby. This sort of thing has been going on for a lot longer than ol’ Gill has been sitting on the iron throne at AFL House.

                Eventually this sort of stuff just erodes peoples interest in the game because they lose respect for it, and the pampered sentences and feelpinions this sort of thing provokes jars people too much. For me, the Smith/Warner ball tampering thing just flicked a switch in my head re: the Australian cricket team, I’ve barely followed any of the news or gave a toss about their performances since, I’ll only be following the BBL this summer and trying to avoid the india test series as much as I can. I just stopped caring about it, they can do perfectly well without my interest and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

                With AFL, I just wanna focus on the footy. Have kinda switched off the last month or so anyways due to various reasons but I’ll come back once finals start.

                I reckon Peter Dutton just cracked a semi after reading your hypothetical scenario. Daw would be lucky not to be deported.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm
        Mattician6x6 said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        Unless you’re connor McGregor, you can be derigistered for your acceptance of a boxing contract and gatecrash a ufc event with pre meditated violence the objective but within a couple of months be welcomed back, and without criminal charge at all.

    • August 10th 2018 @ 8:07am
      MQ said | August 10th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Interesting that you should draw a comparison between an AFL game and an international game of basketball.

      Looking at the two, you could argue that the AFL’s tribunal process was far more robust.

      A good argument for leaving such matters for the tribunal.

      The author himself emphasises that it’s relevant that Brayshaw will be eating from a straw for four weeks, but once again, that’s actually an argument in favour of leaving it all for the tribunal to consider post-match.

      The very, very last thing the game needs to hand officials the power to take blokes off the field when the same officials can’t even tell if the ball has hit the post. People try to make it an issue, but it’s a complete non-issue in the game.

      What we really need to focus on is to take all off the ball incidents out of the game, and that needs to be done, for the most part, by enforcing existing rules.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 10:52am
        Glenn said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        I agree. It’s always black and white to people who call for things like send off rules, but as you point out, the umpires on the field already can’t get a lot of things right. Geez, with cameras focused on the goals they still can’t get goal reviews right. I would like to see them trial a send off, just so I could see them having to leave it to some guy sitting in the stands watching video because it was behind play. Then this person makes a call, sends someone off, the team loses the game, the player goes to the tribunal and gets off and then either the player or club sues the AFL. It aint that simple people. It works in other sports and lower grades for specific reasons. It isn’t worth trying to have it in the AFL for maybe 3 incidents that have happened since and including Barry Hall’s, especially considering that the send off wouldn’t have stopped the incident in the first place. Penalise any sort of punch/elbow, to the ribs, back, shoulder that players get away with now and this might not have happened, because it might have stopped Gaff throwing the punch in the first place.

      • August 14th 2018 @ 3:24pm
        mark said | August 14th 2018 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

        Great point , all this pushing & bumping before the first siren & after a goal has been kicked or missed , needs to stop.Play a free kick immediately & it will cease.These rules are already there.

    • August 10th 2018 @ 9:58am
      Lroy said | August 10th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      Barry Hall KO’d Brett Staker 10 years ago……. he should have received a harsher penalty. Gaff broke a guys jaw and probably was lucky to walk about with 8 weeks, given they count pre season he will miss only 3 games next year.

      The point I would like to make, is these incidents are actually pretty rare. The fact most of us can remember clearly the last time something like this happened is evidence of that.

      The tribunal made its decision and issued its punishment. They have the benefit of hindsight, they have all the information and video evidence in front of them, and both parties get to state their case. Gaff was allowed to have a QC mount a defense for him. He was given a fair hearing. After weighing up the evidence the tribunal made a decision and issued a penalty that nearly everyone agrees is about right.

      Can an umpire, in the heat of the moment make an informed decision like the tribunal can?? They are just as liable ot make an emotive rash decision as Gaff did. If umpires cant agree if a ball hit a post, who is going to agree with them sending a player off??

      The current system works… its not perfect, but no system is. I think they handled this pretty well.

      Junior level I don’t have a problem with it as teenagers don’t always know where the boundaries of respectable behavior lie. . I got sent of myself once for swearing and made sure I never did it again. I was actually cursing myself for missing an easy goal…. ref thought I was swearing at him so he sent me off…..f*&n c$#t

      • Roar Rookie

        August 10th 2018 @ 12:25pm
        Mattician6x6 said | August 10th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Lroy I’d like to ask what is your view on the ppl crying criminal assault/police action needed?
        I believe once police action is called on one event the precedent is set and all events no matter how minor would have to be given same treatment, besides the weekend if we apply the police intervention ideal then we will need to accept NIC Nat tackle could be construed as assault, nyhuis assault, Fyfe assault, Jeremy Cameron assault. None deserve to be but once Pandoras box opens it won’t be shut.

        • August 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm
          Arcturus said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          Not sure about police action, but there have been a few examples in NRL where civil action was taken against the perpetrator for loss of earnings etc. That’s not a good path to go down either. In the NRL’s case it didn’t open a Pandora’s box, but may have played its part in reducing the number of on-field incidents.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 10th 2018 @ 1:35pm
            Mattician6x6 said | August 10th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            Arcturus agree, great avante garde BM name btw mate, if band related what’s your fave release?

      • August 13th 2018 @ 11:58am
        Gharner said | August 13th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

        Pre-season does not count towards suspensions. Supensions within pre-season used to be able to be served across competitions, but now they are served in the regular season (e.g. Robbie Gray this year).

    • August 10th 2018 @ 10:25am
      Aransan said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      A red card in soccer means the player is sent off, takes no further part in the game and their team plays one short for the remainder of the game. There is no chance of that being implemented soon in the AFL. There is great confusion as to what is meant by “red card” in these discussions regarding the AFL. I suspect that most commentators are in fact advocating that an offending player is sent off for the remainder of the game, but they are replaced by a player from the interchange bench and both teams are down to 21 players with 3 on the interchange bench. This should definitely be considered by the AFL but it is not a “red card”, to end the confusion call it something else — for example a “black card”.

      • August 10th 2018 @ 10:57am
        Glenn said | August 10th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

        Don’t get bent out of shape @Aransan. They have green, yellow and red cards in lower aussie rules leagues so poeple that know the game do know what is being discussed, but until specific rules are discussed at the AFL level, it doesn’t much matter if people say and/or mean sent off without being replaced or with a replacement..

        • August 10th 2018 @ 11:08am
          Aransan said | August 10th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          Glenn, I think clarification is still needed as I don’t believe there is any possibility of a send off without replacement — nothing will happen so long as that is on the table.

          I agree with your comment “Penalise any sort of punch/elbow, to the ribs, back, shoulder that players get away with now and this might not have happened, because it might have stopped Gaff throwing the punch in the first place.” The AFL were weak in not suspending Jones for his punch to the face of Zac Merrett.

    • Roar Guru

      August 10th 2018 @ 3:27pm
      Wayne said | August 10th 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

      The coach didn’t have to put him back on the field, easily could of said to Gaff “Go have an early shower, your done”.

    • Roar Guru

      August 10th 2018 @ 5:31pm
      Cousin Claudio said | August 10th 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

      Can of worms.
      What’s going to be the criteria for a send off, when there has never been any to begin with?

      Let the AFL violence continue, both on and off the field.
      Good publicity value this season.

      • Roar Pro

        August 10th 2018 @ 6:08pm
        anon said | August 10th 2018 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

        Is the A-League going to grow and improve the on-field quality this season or are they just relying on gimmicks like Usain Bolt?

      • Roar Guru

        August 10th 2018 @ 6:47pm
        Cat said | August 10th 2018 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

        Isn’t time for you to go fire off some flares?

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