Tuesday, October 3, 2023
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COMMENT: The Tribunal are proper

The choice made by the AFL Tribunal to clear Brayden Maynard of all prices for his collision with Angus Brayshaw was the one one it might have probably made.

Beneath the letter of the legislation, what Maynard did on Thursday evening on the MCG – try to smother the ball and within the aftermath concuss Brayshaw whereas bracing for contact – just isn’t particularly outlawed underneath the league’s guidelines.

The instances mounted on Tuesday evening by each AFL and Magpies counsel proved that for a reality. League consultant Andrew Woods mounted the flimsiest of arguments that Maynard and future gamers in his place wanted to contemplate the potential to trigger harm of any act in microseconds of time, whereas Collingwood lawyer Ben Ihle responded with a profitable declare that Maynard had zero probability in any respect of constructing that judgement in actual time and that the start motion – his selecting to leap to smother – was solely affordable underneath the circumstances.

“It’s asking plenty of a participant to resolve in a fraction of a second which varied methods to land, a excessive velocity collision, and which of these methods of touchdown may consequence through which sort of reportable offence,” Tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson mentioned in explaining why Maynard had been cleared.

Tribunal guru David Zita, from Fox Sports activities, has written out Gleeson’s complete assertion, however the complete verdict rests on this one salient level.

It was all the time going to be thus – if not on the Tribunal, then on the inevitable go to to the AFL Appeals Board when the Magpies took any suspension handed all the way down to that stage.

Maynard was by no means going to be suspended for poleaxing Brayshaw, as a result of proper now, it’s not unlawful to concuss a participant, offered it occurred by way of an inexpensive motion.

And it’s this space, I imagine, that the AFL urgently wants to deal with now. What Maynard did is true now authorized. Come subsequent week, it shouldn’t be.

The rationale? Easy: nonetheless football-oriented Maynard’s motion was, and no one disputes that this was a real try to smother the ball, the result has left a participant knocked out chilly, dominated out of an important match and probably extra, and going through an unsure future.

Concussion is essentially the most severe challenge to be going through the sport in our lifetime, each for the gamers concerned – the heartbreaking revelations of John Platten this week about his well being battle following a lifetime of head knocks solely the newest in a protracted line of alarming outcomes – and the AFL itself, given the continued concussion lawsuits being waged in opposition to them.

Put merely, it’s, at minimal, a life-altering threat that gamers are being unnecessarily uncovered to, and at worst a risk to the very material of our recreation.

The AFL hasn’t failed Brayshaw by not making certain Maynard copped punishment for ironing him out: it had already failed him by not offering the mandatory safeguards to discourage gamers from doing because the Collingwood defender did.

For the final decade, the league has slowly however absolutely been clamping down on incidents, as soon as thought footy acts, that as a rule result in concussion. The response from the soccer public – and in lots of cases the media – has been uniformly of alarm that the fundamentals of our recreation had been underneath assault.

I can nonetheless recall the outrage when Melbourne’s Jack Trengove was suspended for 3 weeks for this sling deal with on Patrick Dangerfield:

On the time, this was regarded as a wonderfully authorized deal with: no free kick was paid, with Dangerfield’s concussion from hitting his head on the bottom seen as an occupational hazard by many. Demons teammates famously took to Twitter decrying the ban.

But now, there could be little doubt that Trengove would face the music, no dissenting voices from the media, no indignant teammates feeling injustice had been completed. The sport has moved on, and we’ve collectively come to phrases that what Trengove did ought to, rightfully, be outlawed.

There was comparable outrage two years later, when James Kelly obtained a two-match suspension for this bump on Brendon Goddard.

There’s not plenty of distinction between what Kelly did and what Jordan De Goey did to Elijah Hewett earlier this yr: but 10 years of expertise and acclimatising to the brand new order reworked the response from ‘RIP the bump’ to Dom Sheed’s well-known ‘he deserves month or two on the sidelines’ for the latter incident.

My level in mentioning the above two instances is that, whereas the thought of Maynard being banned for his collision with Brayshaw was met with scorn and derision in some corners (most of them black and white), that doesn’t imply it will likely be considered in the identical lens in two, three, 5 or ten years’ time, if the AFL acts now to outlaw it.

And what has seemingly been forgotten in all this debate over Maynard’s destiny is the true sufferer: Angus Brayshaw.

The one manner ahead for the AFL is to guard the following participant, nonetheless a few years down the road it comes, from an act resembling Maynard’s.

Simply as crackdowns on harmful tackles and bumps have drastically lessened – although, in fact, not eradicated solely – incidents resembling these, so should there be one now for the Maynards and the Patrick Cripps (from final yr) instances.

The right way to do it? My reply is easy: take away the gray space round what constitutes an ‘unreasonable motion’, and what’s a ‘soccer act’.

It’s this gray space that made the AFL’s counsel look a goose in mounting his case on Tuesday evening, and what allowed the Magpies’ counter-argument to tear theirs to shreds. The fact is we don’t know, in instances resembling Maynard’s, what’s authorized and what isn’t.

The reply to guard the Brayshaws of the long run is to make sure that gamers know full effectively what’s a suspendable act, the results of which is {that a} future Maynard will likely be disinclined to take the motion that began all of it: leaping with ahead momentum into an opposition participant, the act of which turned his physique, within the phrases of biomechanist Professor Michael Cole, into ‘primarily a projectile… a frisbee with legs and arms’.

The way in which to stamp this out is to make sure gamers are chargeable for any motion they undertake, whether or not affordable or not, ought to it result in head contact and the prospect of concussion with one other participant.

The decisive issue will then be not whether or not a participant entered such a contest with affordable intent, as Maynard did, however whether or not they made each doable effort to keep away from injuring the participant they collided with – which Maynard, in legally bracing for contact and in so doing main along with his shoulder, didn’t.

If they will’t assure the security of an opponent or that of their very own, effectively then, within the phrases of Woods, they need to have ‘[thought] a couple of method to do it that’s not going to unreasonably threat the security of the opposite participant’. On this case, it might imply Maynard shouldn’t have risked leaping within the first place.

What it boils all the way down to is that this: if a participant elects to place themselves in a harmful place, as Maynard did by launching himself into the air, then any harm, particularly concussion, sustained by a participant they collide into is on them.

It’s an identical to how a participant now can’t assault the ball by sliding into it in the event that they accumulate one other participant under the knees – that’s a free kick. It’s an identical to how a participant now can’t execute a hip and shoulder bump, a time-honoured a part of the sport, in the event that they hit one other participant within the head – that’s now between one and three weeks off.

Each these had been as soon as thought of soccer acts and deemed completely authorized – the tipping level for the latter was when Lindsay Thomas overturned a hefty ban in 2012 for sliding in and breaking Gary Rohan’s leg. Maynard’s case ought to be the tipping level for this newest controversial incident.

The flimsiest a part of Maynard’s argument was in his claims he couldn’t have anticipated contact with Brayshaw – for all of the proof the Magpies counsel gave in relation to Brayshaw altering his line into Maynard’s path, it’s notable Gleeson’s verdict discovered that ‘an inexpensive participant would have foreseen in the intervening time of committing to the act of smothering that some impression with Brayshaw was doable’, however simply not one extreme sufficient to knock him unconscious.

If the AFL needs to amend my proposed rule by saying that marking contests supersede this new onus on gamers, subsequently enabling gamers to go away the bottom and leap for a excessive mark and never be held chargeable for hitting a participant’s head with a flying knee within the course of, then they will try this.

Angus Brayshaw was knocked unconscious in a collision with Brayden Maynard.

Angus Brayshaw was knocked unconscious in a collision with Brayden Maynard. (Picture by Quinn Rooney/Getty Photos)

The league, in any case, have made an exception for marking contests within the ‘deliberate out of bounds’ rule – defenders are allowed to punch the ball out of bounds to spoil a mark – and the Tribunal exempted Tom Lynch from his concussing of Alex Keath earlier this yr on the grounds that he was going for a mark.

It will additionally serve to alleviate Kane Cornes’ worry that any makes an attempt to droop Maynard, or outlaw his act, would imply the dying of the excessive mark as a consequence.

However I’d additionally argue that, given the severity of the concussion challenge, that making the sport safer for its gamers makes dropping core points of it’s a value that should be paid.

The bump, for all intents and functions, is gone, so hardly ever is it utilized today given the dangers it carries for each the bumper and the ‘bumpee’. That violent aspect to the sport was as soon as a key cause why many fell in love with our recreation – and simply have a look at the response to even essentially the most minor flare-up between gamers at present! – however footy remains to be gratifying with out it.

Beneath the letter of the AFL’s legal guidelines, Brayden Maynard did nothing unsuitable by leaping to smother, bracing for contact, and knocking Brayshaw chilly – and he was rightly cleared by the Tribunal due to that.

However now that the league has proof of simply how harmful his act will be, to not do something to make sure it can’t occur once more with out consequence could be a far, far higher dereliction of obligation than permitting the Magpie to flee sanction for this one.



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