Patrick Cripps celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash with Collingwood in round 11, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON captain Patrick Cripps is free to play against Melbourne on Saturday night after having his two-match suspension overturned by the AFL Appeals Board on Thursday night.

Cripps had his rough conduct charge heard at the Tribunal on Tuesday night, but failed to have it overturned, however, after four-and-a-half hours of submissions and deliberation 48 hours later, his last hurrah was answered by the Appeals Board.

He is now available to play Melbourne and Collingwood in the final two rounds of the home and away season.

The AFL on Friday accepted the decision but said it was "far too early" to say whether the decision will prompt changes to Tribunal procedures.

NO APPEAL Read the AFL's full statement here

"The health and safety of our players is of paramount importance to the AFL and we will continue to evaluate and, where necessary, act to prioritise that objective in relation to the occurrence of concussion and other injuries in the playing of our game," GM of Football Andrew Dillon said.

Cripps' collision with Callum Ah Chee on Sunday left the Brisbane utility concussed and was graded as careless conduct, high impact and high contact.


Appeals Board chairperson Murray Kellam delivered the verdict, saying there was both an error in law at the Tribunal and the findings of the jury were unreasonable.

The main contention came down to whether Cripps "bumped" Ah Chee, which neither he nor his counsel were asked, yet the Tribunal used as part of its verdict.

Kellam said after he and jurors Richard Loveridge and Stephen Jurica viewed the footage, they believed Cripps did not bump and was merely contesting the ball.

"The video did not reveal a bump, it set out as a contest for the ball that resulted in a collision," Kellam said.

Carlton's Patrick Cripps leaves the ground with a ripped jumper against Brisbane at The Gabba on August 7, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"The findings were unreasonable and did not comply with the requirements of procedural fairness."

Cripps' counsel, Christopher Townshend QC, argued there was "a denial of natural justice" because Tribunal chairperson Jeff Gleeson had not directed the jury before they retired to give a verdict.

He said the notion of a bump was a thesis thrown up by Gleeson, never explored, and never directed to his jury members.

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The Appeals Board agreed.

"The findings the Tribunal came up with behind closed doors is they came up with two things at once (that it was a contest and that he chose to bump). It should have required some directions," Townshend said.

"It can't happen behind closed doors, that can't be right.

Patrick Cripps and his Carlton teammates leave the Gabba after their loss to Brisbane in round 21, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"In the absence of Mr Cripps even being asked if he bumped his opponent … the chairperson (Jeff Gleeson) later postures, 'Can you bump and contest the ball at the same time?'

"(The jury was told to consider) a thesis that the chairperson has suggested rather than what the evidence has shown.

"Then it came out of the jury room as a finding.

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"There's no basis in the open hearing for the Tribunal's determination that Cripps' conduct was a bump, especially in light of the Tribunal's declaration this was a genuine contest.

"The tribunal's decision is infected with error and is so unreasonable it requires reversing."

Townshend submitted one hour and 45 minutes of evidence before AFL counterpart Nicholas Pane QC submitted 30 minutes.

After some cross-examining and then another one hour and 45 of deliberation, we had ourselves an ultra-marathon.