Blues skipper Patrick Cripps getting his two-match ban cleared at the AFL Appeals Board on Thursday night in a marathon four-and-a-half hour hearing has ignited debate from the footy world.
In a last-ditch bid, Carlton’s legal representative, Christopher Townshend QC, argued for the way Cripps’ bump on Lion Callum Ah Chee was assessed in Tuesday night’s original Tribunal hearing, with the Appeals Board determining he didn’t get procedural fairness to essentially void the original ban call.
Key to the Appeals Board’s decision was “the failure to afford procedural fairness” by the Tribunal, which amounted to an “error of law,” while the Appeals Board also didn’t see how the Tribunal arrived at the conclusion Cripps’ actions were “in the bumping of an opponent”.
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AFL greats David King and Kane Cornes were both stunned by the overturning of the suspension, with the former saying on SEN the game has “never been more lost” amid confusion around head contact.
Cripps’ bump on Ah Chee last Sunday left the Brisbane midfielder concussed and was initially graded as careless conduct, high impact and high contact.
The questioning of whether Cripps actually bumped Ah Chee, which neither he nor his counsel were asked, yet the Tribunal used as part of its verdict, was first flagged by AFLW Melbourne skipper Daisy Pearce.
“I don‘t think it was a bump. I don’t think he chose to bump,” Pearce said on SEN prior to Thursday night’s Appeals Board hearing.
“I think he committed to the contest and by the time Ah Chee is meeting the contest as well, I see left arm outstretched and right arm never makes it because of the contact made.
“I still think it was incidental, he knew he was going to make contact, but yet what we’re asking players to do is not to commit to winning that ball.
“Him realising he’s going to be late happens after he’s committed. It’s all such small margins and such a fraction of a second in real time.
“I can see why we’re trying to change it, but I think by asking players not to commit to that ball we’re going to change what footy looks like and how it’s played. Maybe that’s something we’re all being asked to accept.
“I still watch that contest and think it’s still a footy contest with an unfortunate outcome.”
Cripps is now free to play against Melbourne and Collingwood in the final two games of the home and away season.
Others responded on social media, with many taken back by the decision to overturn the ban.