FOUR bumps, four very different outcomes.
In a weekend where Ben Long, Dylan Shiel, Brad Ebert and Marlion Pickett all elected to bump, and all made contact to the heads of their opponents, why were there four completely different punishments?
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All four bumps were assessed by Match Review Officer Michael Christian as careless conduct. All four bumps were also viewed as making high contact. But each were classified as a differing impact grading, leading to the differing sanctions.
How does that happen? Well, Christian explains…
BEN LONG – SEVERE IMPACT (REFERRED DIRECTLY TO THE AFL TRIBUNAL)
"We had Sean Darcy, who left the ground and didn't come back on. I'm not allowed to release details of the medical report, but that was certainly taken into account. Other factors taken into account include the fact he didn't come back onto the ground, the visual look of the incident, but also the potential to cause a more serious injury. We landed with severe impact, taking into account all of those factors."
DYLAN SHIEL – HIGH IMPACT (WILL CHALLENGE TWO-MATCH BAN AT THE TRIBUNAL)
"Curtis Taylor was taken from the ground, given a concussion test and was then able to come back onto the ground. Taking into account not only that, but also his medical report and the visual look of the incident and the momentum that Dylan had built and the force with which he hit (Taylor) … we decided the most appropriate grading was high. We took into account the medical report that we had handed to us yesterday (before Taylor had been cleared of a facial fracture). Obviously, we have moved to a point where we are giving determinations within 24 hours of when games are being played. That's what the industry wanted and that's what the clubs wanted and we think that's a great thing. We can only go on the evidence that we have at the time. So, we took into account the medical report and the player reaction in terms of him going for a concussion test. We also looked into the provisions around the potential to cause a more serious injury, which talk about significant force and/or player momentum. We felt that the momentum that Dylan had built certainly sat within those potential to cause a more serious injury provisions. That was our determination."
BRAD EBERT – MEDIUM IMPACT (ONE MATCH)
"When we assessed both of those (the Shiel bump and the Ebert bump) in terms of the impact, we had one player in Curtis Taylor who went from the ground, had a concussion test ... he passed that test, but he spent most of the third quarter off the ground before being able to come back on the ground. That was starkly different to Harry Perryman's plight. He was able to get up in a few seconds and then continue to play. In terms of the potential to cause a more serious injury in both of those cases … there was similar momentum built by both players and they've both elected to bump. In determining impact, taking into account all of those factors including the impact on the player, the visual look, the medical reports for both players and then also applying the potential to cause a more serious injury provisions in both cases, we landed with medium for Ebert and high for Shiel."
MARLION PICKETT – LOW IMPACT ($1000 FINE)
"Isaac Heeney went to ground, but was only down for two or three seconds – maybe four seconds max – but he was able to get up and play on. Taking into account his medical report, the player reaction and the visual look of the incident … we thought the most appropriate grading was low in that particular case."
… AND WHY WAS EACH BUMP GRADED CARELESS CONDUCT?
"The reality is that the game allows players to bump within 5m of the ball. You are allowed to run over the ball and bump an opponent when the ball is within 5m. Though when you make that election to bump, you need to do it fairly. When you don't, obviously there is an issue. At the end of the day … it's something you're allowed to do in the game and we understand that it's a fast game and it's a difficult game. We've determined in all of these cases that the intent of the player was to bump but to bump fairly. What we've ruled is that their intention was to bump, but their intention wasn't to commit a reportable offence."