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AFL cracks down on bumps, niggles

AFL cracks down on bumps, niggles

THE bump is back on the endangered species list after the AFL Commission approved a range of tweaks to the match review and tribunal systems for 2019.

After years of being declared dead, the bump made a comeback last season in the first year under new match review officer Michael Christian.

But at a meeting in Melbourne on Monday, the AFL approved a recommendation to enforce strict liability for forceful head clashes where a player elects to bump an opponent.

In the most notable example of the league’s relaxed approach to bumping in 2018, Hawthorn’s Ryan Burton escaped without sanction for a bone-jarring block on North Melbourne’s Shaun Higgins.

The Roos star was heavily concussed in the incident and required cosmetic surgery after a tooth pierced his lip.

“I think it’s really important to understand that he took reasonable care to execute the bump fairly,” Christian said at the time.

“He couldn’t reasonably foresee that there was going to be an accidental clash of heads.

“It was unfortunate for Higgins, but I just want to emphasise that when we’re assessing incidents we look at the conduct first and foremost.”

Burton, now with Port Adelaide, would have been in the wrong and faced a suspension under the new interpretation.

In what could be seen as the ‘Toby Greene rule’, the league will also crack down on players who use their studs in marking contests or general play.

The GWS forward escaped sanction but sparked furious debate with his kung-fu style approach to a marking contest with Nic Newman during the Sydney derby against the Swans.

Similar actions will result in free kicks or even fines and suspensions depending on the severity of the impact from next season.

The AFL has also vowed to crack down on niggling acts off the ball, be stricter on fining players for incidental careless umpire contact and added stomping and eye gouging to the list of offences that are referred directly to the tribunal.

© AAP 2018