crio’s Q: MRP shambles

Mark Fraser. Peter Carey. Paul Broderick. The MRP.
“If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.
Apparently there is widespread dissatisfaction (dismay/distrust) with the AFL’s Match Review Panel.
It’s a soft target. Who’s got a solution?


  1. There is no simple 5-line answer to this issue. I’ve been wanting to write about all that is wrong with Football – The MRP, The ridiculous points system, the way the rules of the game are implemented by umpires, the culture of the game as a whole – each topic warrants an article on its own but they are all related!

    At this moment, I venture to suggest that the source of the problem is Adrian Anderson. This whole MRP system was devised by him and instead of promoting consistency and transparency – as was his justification for implementing it at the time – it has actually increased inconsistencies and injustices over its 8-year existence.

    For me, the solution is simple…..get rid of the points/grading system totally. It is too subjective and too easily manipulated. From one week to another, the SAME incident can be any of reckless/intentional/negligent, the force can be considered different, it can be designated ‘in play’ or ‘out of play’ . The system depends on too many ‘human factors’ (to put it diplomatically) that play a part in the assessment process.

    I’ve always taken the view that the system is cleverly designed so that the Halls can play in Grand Finals, the Judds can win Brownlows while the Browns get more browned off and the Bakers stay home and BAKE.

    I actually rang SEN back in February 2005 when Adrian Anderson was on with Mark Allen during the Breakfast timeslot extolling the virtues of this new ‘solution to the world’s troubles’.

    It was the first occasion I can ever remember that Anderson made himself available to field calls from listeners (and probably the last) so I jumped at the opportunity.

    I raised the question then, as to why he couldn’t just adopt a simpler solution of a set penalty for a misdemeanour (like throwing a punch) – in the same way that people are punished for speeding or not wearing a seatbelt. Irrespective of the damage they cause (usually there isn’t any damage done in these driving infringements), a law has been broken and a penalty must be handed out.

    I couldn’t understand why anyone had to implement this complicated system which actually made it possible to manipulate the outcome to suit certain, clubs, individuals and situations.

    Immediately, Anderson went off on a tangent to explain something totally unrelated (I wish I could somehow hear a recording of that call – I’m sure it’s possible for someone at SEN to find it) which indicated he clearly didn’t understand the point I was making. Immediately following my responses of…”But…But”…Mark Allen quite skilfully and diplomatically closed out the call with…”I know what you mean, Ahmed”…and got onto the next caller…it’s one of the unfortunate aspects of talkback radio in that even when you are onto saying something worthwhile, you’ll rarely get a chance to get you point across.

    Quite Simply, Penalties should be implemented as thus:

    If you throw a punch, elbow or knee at another player it should be a standard 1 or 2 weeks suspension. If in addition there is injury caused to the victim, the penalty should be increased (e.g Draw blood, cause concussion, break a bone etc – each of these items should serve to increase the punishment by anywhere between 1 and 6 weeks) It’s the only way some of the barbaric behaviour that still goes on in footy (and unfortunately still considered acceptable) will be eradicated.

    An elbow to the head is still an elbow to the head whether it occurs 10 m from the ball or 50m from the ball. It’s NOT part of the sport of football and it should be punished – and the initial punishment (i.e. BEFORE taking into account any damage caused) should be the same each time. There is no need for this meaningless points system. There is no need to sit back and try an assess the force from an office chair while watching a 2D video. Do these guys take into account the weight of the perpetrator when assessing ‘force’ do they run strength and tensile tests on the bones involved ? Of course not ! So what gives them the right to even come out with something like ‘insufficent force to constitute a strike’ even though it can split open someone’s eye ? (You know which incident I’m talking about)…more later when I’ve cooled down a bit….

  2. No Hawthorn player will be rubbed out in this finals series no matter what they do, for they are the chosen ones.

  3. Funnily enough, Phantom, THAT has been my perception for a few decades…

  4. Skip of Skipton says

    I recall Tim Lane interviewing a film-maker or movie director on ABC radio, in regards to Chris Grant’s loss of the ’97 Brownlow. Cameras can lie, and that’s how fight scenes and action shots get made. What happened in real time and space in a contest right under an umpires nose, can look totally different through a camera from a differert angle 70 metres away etc.

  5. Crio,
    I cannot bring myself to unleash on the perofrmance of the MRP.

    Grant Thomas’ comment probably summed it up best:
    “They have been off their tucker for weeks now.”

  6. I have a novel, simple solution – only 2 lines.

    The MRP still makes a decision on whether contact is incidental or one which should result in a possible penalty.
    The penalty, if found culpable, is that you miss as many games as the person you infringed against.

    No types of contact, levels of contact, etc, etc.

    If nothing else, would get rid of sliding into contests pretty quickly if players knew that by sliding in and breaking someone’s leg, they could miss a year.

    Probably worth noting though that the MRP and the tribunal are also considering the image of the game when adjudicating, and not just player actions and consequences.

  7. Wow, I sure underestimated the heat on this one!
    In light of yesterday’s “awfulness”, I actually changed the Q to what I thought would be some light banter…
    e.g. – put Rhy-Jones, Dermie and Hall on the panel; or, imagine how bad it could get with KB and Goldspink as consultants!
    Clearly, though, the MRP is, for many people, “beyond a joke”.

  8. Pete, all noble sentiments from you but the game needs to go beyond that level.

    I’m not in favour of WAITING until damage is done before punishing an individual for sliding into contests for example, as you mention. Why wait until someone breaks a leg before you suspend someone for what is essentially an unnecessary/unreasonable act ? Or worse still, what if this act of sliding causes someone to become a paraplegic ? Will even a year’s suspension then be considered to be the administration of justice ?

    Another common ploy that is creeping into the game is the knees in the back when both players in a contest go to ground. We had a round a few weeks ago when there were 2 such incidents and both went unpunished. One was Jamieson on Petrie and the other was Merrett on Riewoldt.

    The MRP wrote off at least one of those incidents off as ‘insufficient force to constitute a report’ . The AFL needs to get a biomechanist to construct a dummy with moving parts – with the same weight and physical attributes as a real footballer and subject all MRP members to a re-enactment of such incidents and THEN have them tell us that ‘there was insufficient force’ !

    This notion of insufficient force will continually encourage players to test the limits and see how much they can get away with. One day such an unnecessary and unreasonable act will result in someone getting a ruptured kidney, fractured ribs, fractured vertebrae or ruptured spleen.

    The AFL has emphasised in recent years that the head is sacrosanct. Fair enough. However, why are these other vital body parts also not sacrosanct ?

    To stop such needless injuries from occurring, the AFL should be clamping down hard on such behaviour. It’s not part of the game and these acts can easily be avoided if the relevant punishment is meted out as soon as it occurs.

    No doubt there are incidents which are part of the game which WILL result in injury e.g. Tom Lonergan copping a knee in the back in a marking contest which saw him lose a kidney, Harry Taylor got Knocked out by Michael Gardiner’s knee when he took that classic hangar in the dying moments of the best H&A game of 2009, Stephen King once kicked Jeff White in the teeth and broke his jaw in the process after attempting to kick the ball in mid air. In these contests players are conditioned to expect some sort of contact. But that does not mean they should be subjected to a knee in the back or to the legs when they are lying on the ground trying to get the ball out to a team mate.

    And to deem such incidents as ‘accidental’ is a cop out. We are talking about Elite sportsman whose balance, reflexes, timing and perception of time and space is in the top 0.1% of the population.

    In cricket the ball travels at 90 mph. And yet has anyone ever seen a slips fieldsman dive to catch an edged delivery, MISS the ball totally and hit the slips fieldsman next to him ?

    There was a famous incident almost 10 years ago when Alastair Lynch broke Shane Wakelin’s Jaw in a contest. Wakelin was going for the mark and Lynch went for the punch. I think from memory Lynch JUST missed the footy and collected Wakelin in the process. Lynch was not suspended. It really was a 50-50 call but after that the AFL took a slightly harder line on all subsequently similar incidents and I’m happy for them to have done so.

    A year or two later Joel Bowden – one of the fairest players you’ve seen – got suspended for 2 matches for hitting a Hawthorn player (whose name escapes me) in a similar incident to Lynch’s – I say similar because I’m pretty sure Bowden was a fraction later with his ‘high contact’ that Lynch.

    The football public was generally sympathetic towards Bowden.

    Significantly, on the Sunday following the suspension of Bowden, within an hour of each other and quite independently of each other – on separate radio stations – 2 renowned thugs in Dermott Brereton and Tony Shaw quite openly admitted, one said “99 times out of a 100,”…the other said, “9 times out of 10″…..”you KNOW exactly what you are doing in THAT situation”

    What that confirmed in my own mind is that a lot of what goes on in footy is NOT accidental, it IS unnecessary and can CERTAINLY be avoided. Until there is a blanket policy that punishes acts that are NOT part of a contest, people will get unnecessarily injured, some players will be dealt with harshly, some players will be dealt with leniently. Some players will win awards when they don’t deserve it. Others will question why they were made ineligible for the same thing. Some clubs will bank a valuable 4 points because of it, or even go to the next phase of the finals. Other clubs will just bomb out and feel another season went to waste. All due to the whims of some inflexible people lacking the ability to trust their own judgement and working by a set of words and phrases that cannot ever be consistently applied…..
    …….time for a break…….until the next instalment….

  9. There were a plethora of incidents equal to the Stevie J bump (for which he was reported due to an accumulation of points, and the accrual of those are arguable) on both Friday and Saturday night.
    However the toupee terror can whack two players in the chops within minutes of each incident and not cop a report, despite the fact that he does the same most weeks (apparently allowed in his club – just being “unsociable”); SJ can be knocked out in the first 30 seconds of a game and take no further part in it and no report; and others….oh… blah …blah…
    It’s hypocritical at best and fixed at worst.

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