Reviewing the match review panel

Goddard/Wright Incident

The AFL’s match review panel has always been contentious among the AFL community.

After introducing the point-based system in 2005 to establish a consistency amongst findings, the panel has only succeeded in consistently producing inconsistency.

Match review panel decisions will always bear some levels of controversy, though the means exist to minimise the fluctuation prevalent today.

The first of which is the introduction of precedents.

Since the match review panel act in a similar manner to that of a courtroom, it’s staggering that precedents are unable to be applied in hearings.

Precedents allow common law in societies around the world to maintain a standard of consistency, so why it has not been implemented in the match review panel or the tribunal is bewildering.

Brendan Goddard has every right to feel confused after being handed a three-week holiday for striking North Melbourne’s Sam Wright.

Though he can accept two weeks with an early plea, Goddard and many others in the AFL community would struggle to understand how his North Melbourne opponent, Brent Harvey, was able to escape suspension for striking in round eight.

Like wise, players such as Alwyn Davey would be amiss to explain the difference between his bump on Daniel Hannebery, to those of Darren Glass and James Kelly.

Surely the ultimate way of bringing consistency to these issues is to compare past examples in order to establish a universal standard.

The emphasis placed on the medical reports produced by clubs only enhances the inconsistency with the panel’s decisions.

Stewart Crameri was yesterday handed a two-week suspension for what was deemed a ‘high impact’ bump on Bulldog Dylan Addison.

The bump resulted in Addison breaking his jaw, an injury that will see him out for the next month.

The medical report played a crucial role in the panel finding Crameri with high impact, which is absurd.

Would Crameri’s bump have resulted in a broken jaw for any player on the receiving end?

Simply put, no.

The human body is a brittle construct that any variety of force can cause injury depending on the individual.

If Crameri applied that exact same bump to the likes of Matthew Pavlich that didn’t result in an injury, should that change the impact rating?

The answer is a resounding no.

It seems amiss that the match review panel place such emphasis on what is a widely inconsistent measure of impact.

It would be far more logical to place emphasis on the action itself, rather than the result of the action.

As it stands, the match review panel is advocating that actions such as the sling tackle are okay as long as the tackle doesn’t cause injury.

For what is meant to be a proactive move from the AFL to prevent injury, it is being rendered a reactive move by the MRP, seemingly only acting in instances where an injury has occurred.

Finally, the use of the slow motion replays to decide what is a reasonable action is one that should be avoided at all costs.

Players are making split second decisions on a field, decisions that are distorted by the use of slow motion imagery.

The use of these images creates the illusion that players have much more time to prevent contact, specifically when it comes to bumping.

This illusion is only enhanced when three men can sit around watching a replay for hours before deciding what is a reasonable action, a conclusion players may only have a mere second to decide.

By all means the match review panel is a move that has good intentions at the core however the system in its current build will only continue to produce adjudications resembling that of a chook-lottery.

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