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Toby Greene finally learns his fate for ump bump after AFL appeal

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7th October, 2021
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Toby Greene will miss the first five weeks of the 2022 AFL season, after the league doubled his original suspension for his infamous bump on umpire Matt Stevic.

The Giants vice-captain was originally handed a three-match ban by the AFL Tribunal after their one-point elimination final victory over Sydney, but was sent to the AFL Appeals Board after officials described the suspension as ‘manifestly inadequate’.

The official suspension length is six weeks; however, Greene has already served one match on the sidelines, having missed the Giants’ semi final loss to Geelong.

The club’s request for the AFL to delay its appeal until the end of the season was agreed to by the league, but it hasn’t lessened his suspension in a major blow to the Giants’ hopes of another finals appearance in 2022.

AFL counsel Jeff Gleeson described the incident as a “bar room act” in his successful argument for an extended sentence.

“If you aggressively walk through an umpire, you don‘t get a three-match sanction. It’s too light and obviously too light,” he said.

“A three-match ban conveys it was inappropriate, but not seriously so.

“We shouldn‘t be distracted by contact being relatively minor. If it was major, Mr Greene wouldn’t be playing AFL football again.

“To any way diminish the gravity of the act by reference to the contact being minor misunderstands the need for the sanction for this sort of conduct.

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“The message that needs to be communicated to Mr Greene and all players and participants and viewers and umpires and prospective umpires is you simply do not aggressively touch an umpire.”

Greene’s defence argued the suspension wasn’t the full extent of the star forward’s punishment for the act, claiming the ongoing stress over his “playing state” and conjecture over his chequered history should be taken into account.

“He has had to face his teammates and his inability to play in one of the finals games and if GWS made it all the way to the grand final Mr Greene would not have been eligible,” Greene’s representative said.

Greene’s team also argued Stevic’s own belief that the incident was minor and not overstepping the mark should be considered. However, that was dismissed by tribunal chair Murray Kellam QC, who said the experience of the umpire “doesn’t alter” Greene’s actions.

“The main concern is protecting umpires from disrespectful behaviour, the fact that it involves a 400-game umpire doesn’t alter that fact,” Kellam said.

“It doesn’t help, does it, that one particular individual was tough but had so much experience it didn‘t affect him much?

“It could’ve been a first-game umpire.”

Greene’s suspension was always going to be divisive in the AFL community, as allegations of a so-called ‘Toby Tax’ have dominated discussion in 2022. Former player turned commentator David King agreed with the verdict, telling SEN 1116: “The umpires are a no-go zone. Three [weeks] was never a severe enough penalty.”

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