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Tougher penalties for high contact

Tougher penalties for high contact

THE AFL has confirmed its crackdown on head-high contact, with a charged player likely to be suspended for careless conduct even if there was no injury.

The league released its men’s and women’s tribunal review findings on Monday, announcing long-time league advocate Jeff Gleeson QC to take over as the AFL tribunal chairman.

Gleeson will take over from veteran tribunal chair David Jones and Renee Enbom QC is the new deputy chairperson.

Enbom will chair any AFLW tribunal hearings.

The AFL has also stiffened potential penalties for intentional umpire contact.

While Toby Greene’s six-game suspension on appeal for the GWS star’s run-in with Matt Stevic highlighted the issue, the AFL is concerned at a broader trend at all levels of the game where players are showing more disrespect to umpires.

New AFL football operations boss Brad Scott flagged the high contact change last month, warning players would be “in trouble” if they are late to contests and make contact with opponents’ heads.

Under the change, the potential to cause injury must be factored in when a charge is laid and impact is determined.

“The result of this change will be that, where there is careless conduct that is high contact and has the potential to cause injury, a medium impact classification will usually apply, and a one-match suspension will be the minimum sanction applied,” the AFL said.

Ross Howie SC has joined fellow chair Jones in leaving the tribunal.

The structure of the tribunal has also changed – previously it was the chair and a jury of three former players.

Now the chairperson and two jury members together will determine tribunal decisions.

In October, Greene’s penalty for his contact with Stevic was doubled after the AFL appealed against the original ban.

The AFL and AFLW rules have also been beefed up, with the tribunal required to look at the number of elements in an intentional umpire contact offence, such as whether it was aggressive, forceful, demonstrative and disrespectful.

“The result (is) that the more elements that are present the harsher the sanction that may be imposed,” the league said.

They are among seven changes to the AFL and AFLW tribunal system for next season.

(C) AAP 2021