Dees challenge ‘fabric of the game tribunal verdict’, Magpies ‘classy’ apology, Bulldog out with breathing dramas

AFL, AFL Tribunal, featured, Junior Rioli

Melbourne will head to the AFL appeals board on Thursday to challenge Jacob van Rooyen’s controversial two-match striking ban, determined to clear up confusion around how players can contest the ball.

Emerging star van Rooyen was cited for a dangerous spoil, where his bicep hit the head of Gold Coast’s Charlie Ballard, and had his two-match suspension upheld at the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night.

Coach Simon Goodwin believed the tribunal’s ruling challenged “the fabric of the game”.

“When you see the outrage in our supporter base, you see the outrage of the footy community, clearly you look at it, and it’s either unjust, or the fabric of the game’s getting challenged,” he said.

“For us, it’s important that we probably go down that path of looking at why that’s the case and take it a little bit further and we’ll hit all avenues about how we go about doing that and get all the information we can. 

“But clearly there’s a level of frustration, a level of disappointment for a whole range of different reasons.

“Because clearly the laws state that you can contest the ball and Jacob’s only thing that he was looking at was contesting the ball. So the fabric of the game has been challenged.”

Jacob van Rooyen collects Charlie Ballard.

Jacob van Rooyen collects Charlie Ballard. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The decision to uphold van Rooyen’s ban has frustrated current and former players, who believe the 20-year-old’s attempted spoil was within the spirit of the game.

When asked whether Melbourne felt a responsibility to appeal, Goodwin said: “yeah, we do.”

“There is a level of confusion that’s out there all of a sudden,” he said.

“So we certainly feel it’s an important process to go through to help build that clarity.”

Ballard was stretchered off the field but has since been cleared of concussion or a neck injury.

Van Rooyen twice looked up at the ball on his way to making the spoil and he knocked back the suggestion from AFL counsel Woods he should have slowed up to protect his opponent. “I don’t think I would have been near the spoil if I had slowed up,” van Rooyen said during his evidence.

“I didn’t think I was going to make contact with Ballard’s head. I was just trying to go for the ball and I think I did a good job at that. I’m either touching the ball, or within millimetres of it. It wasn’t my intention to hurt anyone.”

The AFL tribunal, led by chair Jeff Gleeson, said the blow’s force was considerable and van Rooyen’s actions were careless.

“We find that a reasonable player would have foreseen that in spoiling in the way he did, it would almost inevitably have resulted in a forceful blow to Ballard’s head,” Gleeson said.

Geelong forward Brad Close failed to overturn his one-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Adelaide’s Jordan Dawson and will miss Friday night’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.

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But the most interesting aspect of the marathon five-and-a-half hour night at the Tribunal was the case involving Newman, whose strike on Neale was classified as intentional conduct, low impact and high contact.

Neale submitted a letter saying his attempt to push Newman away was effectively the main reason why Newman’s left elbow made contact with his chin.

“I think I lifted his left arm upwards and it had the effect of his left arm clipping me on the chin,” Neale wrote.

Neale was then video called to give further evidence with AFL counsel Andrew Woods arguing it was actually Newman’s second push – with his right arm – that was the issue.

That surprised Neale, given it was Newman’s left elbow to his chin that was the talking point when AFL match review officer Michael Christian handed down his initial findings.

Neale said he didn’t think Newman’s push with his right arm was high.

“Because I copped that initial hit, I’m off balance which makes any sort of push easier to get me to ground,” Neale replied when asked about Newman’s second shove that resulted in the Lions star falling to the ground.

The jury, led by chairman Jeff Gleeson, cleared Newman of the charge.

“The vision is not sufficiently clear to enable us to determine whether the right arm contacted Neale just below or above his shoulders,” Gleeson said.

Port Adelaide forward Junior Rioli will face the AFL Tribunal on Wednesday night for his strike on Essendon’s Jordan Ridley.

Swans applaud ‘classy’ Magpies apology

Sydney assistant coach Dean Cox has applauded Collingwood as a “classy organisation” for swiftly apologising to Swans icon Lance Franklin after he was bizarrely booed by Magpies supporters.

The AFL joined the Swans and Collingwood in issuing strong statements on Monday after Franklin, arguably the game’s greatest Indigenous player, was booed every time he touched the ball during Sunday’s match in front of a parochial Magpies crowd at the MCG.

Clearly referring to the booing that drove fellow Swans Indigenous great Adam Goodes out of the game, Sydney condemned the treatment of Franklin during the round-eight defeat.

The match was the first time Collingwood and Sydney had played each other at the MCG since Goodes was racially abused by a supporter in 2013.

Speaking on Tuesday, Cox admitted the crowd’s jeering of the veteran forward “didn’t sit well” with him but Franklin was “fine”.

The former West Coast star said Collingwood made the right call in proactively releasing a statement less than 24 hours after the booing of Franklin.

“I think that’s the first thing you can do (is applaud Collingwood), that’s why they’re a classy organisation to be able to do that,” Cox told SEN WA.

Lance Franklin of the Swans and Darcy Moore of the Magpies shake hands.

Lance Franklin of the Swans and Darcy Moore of the Magpies shake hands. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“None more so than (captain Darcy) Moore and what he’s delivered as a captain in his first season as well. 

“We just want to celebrate those type of players, to be able to witness what he’s done for such a long period of time in the game, he should be applauded, not booed.”

Franklin, who almost certainly will become an Australian football Hall Of Fame legend once he retires, is likely playing his last season with the Swans.

The 36-year-old was responsible for one of the game’s greatest moments at the SCG last year when he became just the sixth player to kick 1000 VFL/AFL goals.

Franklin has been below his superstar best this season, kicking just seven goals from five games in 2023, including 0.1 against the Magpies.

But Cox said the left-footer was still a valuable member of the Swans line-up. “Lance’s role at this stage of his career is not to be able to try and kick 60-70 goals,” he said.

“Lance plays an important role in our forward line and that’s to lead a forward line, it’s to provide a target. I think, at times, we’ve probably been a little bit too Lance conscious in some of our forward entries.”

Bulldogs’ Darcy sidelined due to breathing difficulties

Promising Western Bulldogs tall Sam Darcy will be sidelined indefinitely due to breathing problems caused by a small hole in his lung.

A father-son selection in the 2021 draft, the 19-year-old has played the first two games of the AFL season before dropping down to the VFL.

Darcy sat out Footscray’s VFL match against GWS last Saturday, with the Bulldogs providing an update on his absence.

“Sam reported the onset of some shortness of breath,” Bulldogs’ head of medicine Chris Bell said.

“Scans confirmed that he is suffering from a small hole in the lung that has leaked some air into the space between the lung and the chest wall. This has happened spontaneously and is non-traumatic which is uncommon.

Sam Darcy of the Bulldogs. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

“We have consulted with specialists who expect this to heal and improve with conservative management and time. We will monitor Sam over the coming weeks and declare him available once he is back to full health.”

Meanwhile, young forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and defender Tim O’Brien will need to prove their fitness for Saturday night’s clash with Carlton at Marvel Stadium.

Ugle-Hagan experienced groin soreness during last Saturday night’s win against GWS and will undergo a fitness test this week.

The Bulldogs will definitely be without star midfielder Adam Treloar, who strained his hamstring against the Giants and will miss at least two weeks.

At Hawthorn young gun Josh Ward will sit out this Saturday’s match against Melbourne due to foot soreness.

In some positive news for the struggling Hawks, fellow youngster Jai Serong is expected to be available for selection a week after being diagnosed with pericarditis.

“He’s going fantastically well, he did full training today and at the end of last week,” Hawks High Performance Manager Peter Burge said.


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