AFL: How the Match Review Panel Works

So a bloke grabs a fist full of jumper from his opponent. They push and shove. The first bloke pushes harder than the other bloke and makes contact with the other bloke. Probably around the chin. Neither is hurt. The umpire, standing just metres away, sees no issue, and does not award a free kick against the jumper puncher as he obviously observed the soccer like dive that the punchee takes.


The media goes into “there’s ten minutes of brainless time filler” mode. Idiots start suggesting that the puncher is in huge trouble. They talk and talk and talk and show slow motion action replays of the incident, including one interesting photo taken from the Hubble Space Telescope. They say things like,


“Oooohhh gee wizz, I reckon he’s in trouble here”. And,


“I reckon he’s in trouble here. Oooohhh Gee wizz”. And,


“I reckon, under the new rules, (no not the new rules that were introduced yesterday, I’m referring to the new-new rules that the AFL warned ALL the clubs about at 4.23 this arvo); I reckon under those rules he’s in real trouble here. Gee wizz. Oooohh.”


Meanwhile, another bloke is sitting on his couch eating chicken flavoured potato chips. Why he chose that flavour is beyond me. Can’t go past the plain flavour I reckon. This bloke’s lounge room (or living “space” as they are now referred to) is designed to catch the gentle winter afternoon sun but at night, after the sun goes down, it doesn’t catch anything. He owns a few pubs and coffee shops. He is regarded as an expert. For a bit of fun on a Monday night this bloke sits on the AFL’s Tribunal (nowadays referred to as the Match Review Panel) to assess whether or not recalcitrant and violent footballers have offended the sensibilities of the of the game’s major stakeholders. It’s called the Match Review Panel because it’s supposed to review the matches. If that involves the Hubble Space Telescope then so be it. But there is one problem; it doesn’t review the games it simply reviews the media reactions to the games. And the game’s stakeholders are not remotely interested in what happened, they are only interested in what is perceived to have happened. So why should the Match Review Panel give a stuff. The bloke sitting on his couch in his architecturally designed living space doesn’t bat an eyelid. He simply reaches for more chips. His Monday night gig is the easiest he’s ever had.


The first place that the Match Review Panel goes in assessing a player’s actions is not the replay of the game it is the Twittersphere. No, I’m not referring to Spring Street in Melbourne. The Twittersphere is the home of all knowledge and wisdom. It has, amongst its many contributors, great minds like Luke Darcy and Robbo. Apparently, the Twittersphere is like a cyber version of the great council of judgement in Logan’s Run (one of the great TV shows out of the 1970s. Really loved the girl’s green blouse). By that I mean that it is infallible. There is no review of the Match Review Panel’s decision because its decision is based upon 10 word diatribes from the high priests in the Twittersphere. But you can like it on Facebook.

By the way, to be considered a high priest in the Twittersphere you must be able to say yes to one of these questions:

“Am I an idiot?”


The fact that the Match Review Panel doesn’t do its job is of no consequence. This is quite normal human behaviour. It’s called laziness. Countless studies done over the centuries have proven that human laziness is a real phenomenon. It fact, it has been estimated that laziness has killed up to 350 billion people over the years. That and chicken flavoured chips. It has also been proven that human laziness has resulted in Tom Hawkins being rubbed out for a week.


About Damian O'Donnell

I'm passionate about breathing. And you should always chase your passions. If I read one more thing about what defines leadership I think I'll go crazy. Go Cats.


  1. Cat from the Country says

    Thanks Dips. I had wondered how the Match Review Panel (didn’t) work!
    “Consistant: would be a nice start and not changing rules during the year.

  2. Rulebook says

    Dips 100 per cent agree yes dumb by Hawkins and poor acting by Matt Crouch that was it.
    If the MRP had correctly done its job and suspended,Cotchin there would not have been all the drama since.Hawkins re blatantly insufficient force

  3. Hey Dips, the Match Review committee guy was eating chicken flavoured chips, but I think you’ve been eating kale — I detect some bitterness!

  4. Rabid Dog says

    I laughed out loud!!!

  5. Tony Tea says

    The AFL’s key suspension criteria is: can the player win the Brownlow? Yes: fine. No: week(s).

  6. Peter Flynn says

    They work backwards from the Medal.

    And jumper punches should be OK in a Prelim Final.

  7. Are you saying that trees fall over to easily in the forest Dips?

  8. Are you saying that trees fall over too easily in the forest Dips?

  9. John Butler says

    In Twitterspeak, the hashtag for this one would have to be #Geelonggoggles

  10. Is there another sport in the world which changes/alters its rules &/or interpretations thereof as frequently as Australian football? From season to season! Now from week to week!

    The media is not at fault here.
    The MRP initially created all this hullabaloo and confusion by not giving Fyfe and Nankervis weeks for deliberate elbows to the heads of unsuspecting opponents – with on the same weekend.
    To then compound the situation, Trent Cotchin got off with a fine for punching an opponent in the face; it was NOT a jumper punch – he had a fistful of jumper but his fist made direct contact with the opponent’s face. Now, Hawkins gets a week for a transgression which was nowhere near as severe as Cotchin’s.

    Having said all that, Hawkins was foolish and stupid to jumper-punch an opponent given all the discussion which had been going on for the past couple of weeks. Why do it? Why? Ridiculous behaviour. And I reckon he knew it – and his wife certainly did.

  11. JB and 6% – every club should be concerned, but yes, I am angry as a Cats supporter.

    Tony Tea and PF – spot on.

    JTH – if the MRP is not looking and a tree falls does it make a sound? Or, if they are looking, is the sound disproportionate to the fall? An infallible conjecture.

  12. Got what he deserved. Dunno how the MRP missed Joel Selwood’s backhander; and Dangerfield’s deliberate trip; and Motlop’s squirrel grip; and ……………………………………..
    They all deserved a week.
    Unbiased of Subiaco.

  13. PB – they missed the other incidents because they weren’t looking. Which is my point. And they weren’t looking because these other incidents (whether they exist or not) were not brought to their attention by the cyber space lynch mob.

  14. DBalassone says

    I don’t get this mate. I reckon Hawkins got him on the throat, with a fair bit of force – a potentally very dangerous act – and just quietly Hawkins would have a fist that is about three times the size as most players, He’s very lucky to get one week in my book.

  15. Daniel Flesch says

    Why don’t they all just play football and leave the punching elbowing and shoving out of it altogether ?
    They should go the way of racial abuse and personal sledging which is no longer tolerated..
    Instead of acting all tough and aggro they could concentrate on out-playing their opponents with skill and the good old guts and determination . Then there’d be no need for the MRP.
    I used to umpire Under 17’s and when i gave frees against kids doing the above they’d angrily retort “They do it in the AFL okay.” Howling parents and big brothers on the sidelines would back them up.
    Far too many AFL players are not good role models for kids and amateurs in this regard.

  16. G’day Dips,

    I reckon the bloke likes chicken flavoured crisps because he is obsessed with chicken wing tackle made by Chris Judd in 2012. He made the decision with media commentators’ points of views including the silly one made by Shane Crawford who suggested one week was enough.

    And this bloke’s theory doing his job is the same how many journalists make stories only with humours and interviewing the third party. It’s sad to see Rohan Connolly leaving the Age. I think his female colleague should be omitted from the paper rather than the guy who knows footy well.

    Hawkins was silly but should have not been handed one week suspension.

    MRP is dysfunctional but the too many rule changes jeoparise the sport on playing and umpiring. These rule changes can be made by such blokes I think.



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