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The Roar


AFL News: Van Rooyen verdict in, Clarko savages 'shameful' Hawks racism investigation

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11th May, 2023
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Jacob van Rooyen’s controversial striking ban has been thrown out on appeal, leaving the young Melbourne talent free to play Hawthorn on Saturday.

The AFL’s Appeals Board agreed with his lawyer’s argument the two-game striking ban he’d copped was an error of law, after they’d been pointed to the code’s specific rules on marking.

The panel deliberated for more than two hours before deciding they “can’t redraft the laws of Australian football” and tossing out the ban.

Emerging star van Rooyen had been cited for a dangerous spoil, where his arm hit the head of Gold Coast’s Charlie Ballard, sparking mass frustration across the AFL spectrum due to the seemingly harsh penalty for a football action.

Van Rooyen’s lawyer Will Houghton argued there was a “positive power” in the laws of the game allowing a player contesting a mark to make incidental contact with another player.

“That is a protection given to a player against being reported for an offence when that player’s sole objective is to contest … a mark and incidental contact takes place,” he said.

Tuesday’s tribunal hearing had accepted van Rooyen was only intending to spoil the football, yet still found him guilty and imposed the ban.

Houghton said limiting a player’s protection under the rule wasn’t permitted as it “excuses conduct that would be seen to be careless”.


“If the rule doesn’t exist for that reason, it would be pointless,” he said.

Appeal Board chair Murray Kellam noted the specific rule – law 18.5 of Australian football – contains no clause regarding “reasonable contact”, while other similar rules do.

“(It) refers only to incidental contact and makes no mention of unreasonable contact,” he said.

“These other laws, in our view, and the drafting of them support the contentions of the appellant that law 18.5 must be read in its terms.”

AFL lawyer Andrew Woods said the league’s position is a player can have a sole objective of spoiling, but if they execute it carelessly they breach a duty of care owed to other players.

He said if that wasn’t accepted players had a “blank cheque” to not reasonably care for opponents.

Kellam addressed that claim and admitted it had validity.


“(But) that does not permit us to interpret rule 18.5 as containing additional words … it’s not for this board to redraft the laws of Australian football,” he said.

Speaking before the appeal on Thursday, Melbourne teammate Jake Lever said van Rooyen’s suspension could change Australian football moving forward.

“If he does get off, the game continues, but if he doesn’t, I think then it’s going to be a bit confusing and the game might change a bit,” Lever said.

“Any rule change does [change the fabric of the game], or anything that happens in the tribunal that’s always a conversation, but for us, we’ll just see what happens.”


Jacob van Rooyen collects Charlie Ballard.

Jacob van Rooyen collects Charlie Ballard. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Clarko blasts ‘shameful’ handling of Hawthorn racism investigation


Alastair Clarkson has called for Hawthorn to be investigated over their “shameful” handling of the long-running racism saga, saying reputations have been “scarred”.

The North Melbourne coach has responded explosively after panel chairman Bernard Quinn KC released some details of the process to the media on Wednesday night.

A fuming Clarkson has slammed Quinn and authorities at Hawthorn, describing the sport as a “victim” for the investigation dragging on since allegations became public last September.

The four-time Hawks premiership coach, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt have been named as figures involved in an alleged episode of racism during their time with the club.

All deny any wrongdoing.

The three men are yet to be given an official right to respond to the damning allegations, even during the initial review conducted at Hawthorn by Phil Egan.

“It’s just extraordinary that we’ve waited eight months, the game is the victim of this,” Clarkson said at Arden St on Thursday.


“The game has been shamed, obviously myself, Fages and Jason, our families have been shamed.

“The Indigenous and First Nations families, they’ve been shamed.

“And there’s one particular party out there that was the catalyst for all this that haven’t been investigated at all; their governance and conduct in this whole thing, the Hawthorn Football Club, just shameful.

“Let’s do an investigation on them and their practices and see how they go.”

Alastair Clarkson poses for a photo.

Alastair Clarkson. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Clarkson questioned why Quinn, who chairs the panel commissioned by the AFL to investigate the bombshell claims, released details to the media.

The AFL initially hoped the independent investigation would report its findings last December but Quinn gave no indication in his statement when that might happen.


“The guy (Quinn) who actually establishes the protocol around confidentiality actually breaches,” Clarkson said.

“The damage is done, reputations have been scarred and we’ve got to somehow just claw our reputations back through this whole process.

“And all we want is a fair platform to be able to do that.

“Once we get that opportunity then we’ll let the judge decide.

“That will either be a court of law or the court of public opinion.

“We’ve waited for eight months to get some sort of process going in terms of what you call procedural fairness in terms of the legal game, and the procedural fairness offered to myself, Fages and Jason has been next to zero and that’s particularly frustrating.”

Quinn stressed no conditions had been placed on mediation, contrary to media reports over the weekend.


Those reports prompted Fagan, who is coaching the Brisbane Lions, to release a statement on Sunday saying he would only agree to mediation “in good faith”.

Clarkson did not indicate if he wished to participate in any proposed mediation.

“All these events that happen, just makes it a circus,” Clarkson said.

“Someone just needs to cut through it all and just take ownership of the whole process, whether that’s from within the Hawthorn Football Club or the AFL.

“Someone from either one of those two bodies needs to take ownership of just what’s happened in terms of the governance and conduct of this whole process and allow us the fair opportunity to be able to tell our story.”


‘Got to get this out of the game’: McGuire calls for taunting ban


Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has urged the AFL to take action in stamping taunting out of the game, following ‘disgraceful’ treatment endured by Magpies young gun Nick Daicos against Sydney.

Daicos was at the centre of a series of scuffles after Swans players made it their mission to bump and niggle the 20-year old from the first bounce at the MCG, with his Pies teammates duly sticking up for him.

Speaking on Footy Classified, McGuire has urged the AFL to introduce a ‘taunting rule’ to punish teams for such tactics in future.

“This sort of stuff, we‘ve got to get this out of the game,” he said.

“This was disgraceful on the weekend: we’re sick of it – you can‘t come back at people.

“You wouldn‘t believe it, Josh Daicos got a $1,000 fine for protecting his brother from being attacked by five Swans.


“Collingwood players shouldn‘t have been fined. There should be a 50 metre penalty and a free kick.

“There’s no sportsmanship – it‘s pure bullying, it’s a waste of time.”

US sports, especially American football and basketball, have strict rules in place to discourage taunting, with heavy penalties in place for offenders.

McGuire wants the AFL to copy the NFL’s approach in particular, where players can be removed from the game for a second taunting incident.

“Why don‘t we bring it in and clean the game up so that we don’t get cowards and duds and all the other idiots running up and getting in the faces of players after they’ve missed a goal, trying to humiliate them?” McGuire said.

“Play the game like men: out.”

Collingwood and Sydney players wrestle.

Collingwood and Sydney players wrestle. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Former great’s whack for ‘silly’ Suns gun’s JVR take

Former great Jordan Lewis has issued a stinging backhander at Gold Coast defender Wil Powell’s response to Melbourne forward Jacob van Rooyen’s controversial suspension.

The Demons are mounting a further appeal after the AFL Tribunal upheld van Rooyen’s controversial two-match suspension for a clash with Sun Charlie Ballard, who was stretchered off but has since been cleared of injury.

While the majority of the football community, from the media to supporters, has taken the Demon’s side, Powell was adamant van Rooyen ‘got what he deserved’.

“He [van Rooyen] didn’t make contact with the footy, didn’t have eyes with the footy and smacked Charlie in the side of the head,” Powell said on SEN WA.

“I think he got what he deserved, the MRO is doing a good job.”


Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Lewis’ response was blunt.

“His comment was nearly as silly as the suspension,” the triple-premiership former Hawthorn and Melbourne player said of Powell.

“I just couldn’t believe that you would see it that way and back the decision in.”

On the suspension itself, Lewis accused the AFL of ‘making it up as they go along’ in their attempts to eradicate concussion from the game, following a series of recent class action lawsuits from former players.

 We’ve never seen this before – they are looking at instances and seeing the result of an incident and going ‘OK, let’s penalise that now, let’s see where it goes from here, let’s put that on the agenda’.

“So then in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, we’ve actually got a case to put it against. There’s a precedent. So they’re making it up.


“There’s going to be accidents. For me, that [van Rooyen’s suspension] was a football act, and to see that as a suspension I think is embarrassing.

“It just doesn’t sit well – the more I watch that the angrier I get.”

‘If Buddy thinks it’s racist, it’s racist’: Betts responds to Franklin booing

AFL great Eddie Betts says only Lance Franklin himself can determine whether the controversial booing of the Sydney champion was racist.

Speaking on AFL 360, Betts, an outspoken advocate for Indigenous players and one of the game’s finest small forwards, said people without experience in dealing with racism have no grounds to determine what is or isn’t racist abuse.

“What everyone needs to understand with racism is it’s not up for discussion. If you haven’t been racially vilified or you don’t understand it or you haven’t felt it,” he said.

“The most important person in this is Buddy. If Buddy thinks it’s racist, it’s racist. If he doesn’t think it’s racist, it’s not racist.”


Jordan Lewis, a former teammate of Franklin, responded by saying he ‘didn’t once’ think the booing was ‘racially motivated’, and instead brought about by the Swans’ targeting of Magpies young gun Nick Daicos.

“I just think in this instance it was the Collingwood faithful going: ‘Okay, you’re going after one of our stars. We’re going to go after one of your stars’,” Lewis said.

“I think I’ve got a pretty good feel on when you go to a game and why stuff happens. I didn’t once think this was racially motivated or anything. I just thought it was in the heat of the battle.

“If an opposition player was doing that to one of our young gun and really try[ing] to ruffle his feathers, that is a reaction I would want from my home team, absolutely.

“I think since that has played out, it has been blown out of proportion.

“Knowing and understanding Bud, and not that he would be embarrassed by the one it has unfolded, but I don’t think it would’ve fazed him one bit.”