Match Review Panel: Consistently Inconsistent

Match Review Panel: Consistently Inconsistent


“Consistency and universality are the tests of truth.” – Plato


The famous Greek philosopher would be turning over in his grave with the latest Match Review Panel decisions, spanning over a brutal and fierce 2017 season.


Patrick Dangerfield accepted a one-match suspension for his tackle on Matthew Kreuzer against Carlton in Round 19.


The tackle, which was seemingly innocuous, went unnoticed by players, commentators and fans alike, with Dangerfield himself only hearing about the issue post-match. Kreuzer didn’t miss a game.


In the same round, Luke Hodge received a one-match ban for striking Tom Papley. This was Hodge’s third off-the-ball striking offence this year however it was only his first suspension.


Trent Cotchin has been found guilty twice this season for striking an opponent, yet has not been suspended.


Similarly, with Dustin Martin, who has struck players off-the-ball without an eyelid batted.


And what about Toby Greene, who has been found guilty and suspended for striking twice this season, reported for head-butting Isaac Heeney and cleared due to “insufficient force” and when he kicked Luke Daulhaus in the face, he gets let off with a fine due to a MRP “interpretation” of the offence?


Players are cited or not cited, cleared or not cleared, suspended or fined…all based on the inconsistencies of a small group of Match Review Panellists who control the outcomes with their inconsistent interpretations.


The Russian Roulette of the Match Review Panel is alarming.


These outrageous and confusing decisions have left us all wondering.


Is inconsistency the only thing the MRP gets right?


Umpires, players, coaches and fans have NO IDEA how the rules will be interpreted on a week to week basis, with similar incidents receiving dramatically different penalties and outcomes.


How, in a professional game, can we not get the basics right?


How does the AFL allow this to continue?


The definition of consistency is “the adherence to the same principles, course and form.”


This is a definition that the Match Review Panel obviously doesn’t understand as there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to their decision making.


Have we forgotten about the leniency shown to Nat Fyfe in 2015, after his third on field indiscretion was downgraded to allow him to remain eligible to win the Brownlow?


What about Lance Franklin’s rough conduct on Clay Cameron in round 12 2014, which saw him let off, even though the bump was an obvious example of punishable misdemeanour?


How on earth did Ollie Wines from Port Adelaide not get suspended for his deliberate high, late hit to the head of Tom Langdon – even when Langdon was not in a position to protect himself? How did the MRP review this hit as “careless”?


And even when they get it right, they still manage to get it wrong.


Bashar Houli deserved four weeks, not the initial two he was given, for his hit on Jed Lamb earlier this year knocking him unconscious.


How does that compare to Jack Redpath’s push to the chest of Phil Davis which cost the Bulldogs forward three weeks suspension?


Brodie Grundy’s tackle on Ben Brown was deemed legal by all three officiating umpires, with Grundy also receiving a free kick for holding-the-ball after Brown exited the field on a stretcher.


However, Grundy received three weeks from the MRP, with the tackle being deemed ‘illegal’.


And don’t get me started on Phil Davis who has taken three dives this season causing fellow players to be suspended for harmless incidents.


It’s about time he was spoken to by the AFL for staging. It’s time he was punished by the AFL for his actions.


The AFL promised to remove staging from the game but where is the action or punishment.


It’s not a good look.


Contradiction is out of control at the MRP.


This Panel was set up to support this great game and administer the rules properly. It is now the laughing stock of Australian sport.


The current system penalises clubs who attempt to challenge MRP decisions. You lose? You receive the full ban.


We hear coaches explain week after week why they are hesitant to challenge unfair decisions, in fear that they will lose their battle and the punishment will be greater than originally given.


What is this teaching coaches and their players? To adjust the ways in which they coach and play in order to fit the ever-changing rules.


We supporters must watch with great discomfort as the MRP is consistently inconsistent with decisions that really should be straightforward.


So, Gill McLachlan, in the words of the great coach John Kennedy…“DO SOMETHING!”


The MRP is an embarrassment to you and the AFL Board.


Is this the legacy you want to be remembered for during YOUR leadership?


I leave you with four words.


Mirror. Good. Hard. Look.


About Anna Pavlou

Anna 'Pav' Pavlou is a current student and a born and bred Melburnian who has a passion for sport and sharing people's stories. She is an intern journalist for AFL VICTORIA and writes for The Roar, the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA Media), the Mongrel Punt and is a Melbourne Cricket Club contributor. She also appears on North West FM 98.9 radio show. Most winter weekends you'll find her down at the Ross Gregory Oval in St Kilda, supporting Power House FC, who play in Division 2 in the VAFA. She works as the Division 2 writer for the VAFA. She completed work experience with 3AW Radio and has been published in The Age as well as with Carlton FC and Geelong Cats. Check out her website below for more sport pieces!


  1. Carolyn Wood says

    Excellent article – the MRP deliberations are mysterious – perhaps they just toss a coin or something – their efforts at describing their rationale for outcomes are painfully hilarious.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Excellent article Anna basically agree with every word.Earlier in the season,Jimmy Bartel more than hinted he disagreed with the decision, I fancy he has resigned in frustration ( I have consistently shaken my head in bewilderment and disgust re hearing,Nathan Burke’s explanation of various cases )

  3. Dave Brown says

    There is a beauty in the complexity of our game. An infuriating, expletive causing beauty, but a beauty nonetheless.

  4. Anna – very articulate. I believe the problem with the MRP stems from the fact that the demi-Gods in charge of our great game are completely lost as to what sort of game they want to see. Is it body contact? Yes. But how much? Not sure. They adopt a “We’ll know it when we see it” approach to unacceptable behaviour on the ground. But the level of unacceptable behaviour fluctuates week after week.

    Its actually quite similar to our illustrious Tax Office, who change their minds as to what is lawful and what is unlawful in the space of an afternoon. They go with “the vibe” when hanging the poor taxpayers out in the streets, just as the MRP does to the players.

    Another example of how rational and logical thought is being replaced with emotive and cliched nonsense.

  5. Agree with every word Anna. Is it possible that higher profile players get different treatment? Know I should wash my mouth out with soap at the thought, but… Even as a Port man, I struggle to understand the difference with Wines getting off and Jonas 2 games.

  6. The MRP is a farce, a shambles, a joke, and a blight on the AFL.
    The frustration with the MRP amongst players, coaches and supporters is manifest.

    The entire reporting / match review / tribunal / appeals system needs an overhaul.

  7. i agree there is a systemic issue however D Martin is a hard and fair player who has never been suspended in 170+ games and gets smashed off the ball game in and game out.

    The umps should stop the nigglers and if they don’t they bear some of the responsibility when ballgetters finally lash out. (Which Dusty doesn’t.)

  8. Nice application of logic, Anna.
    We (society) seem to run into problems with rules-based systems, as opposed to principles-based systems.
    People will always look to exploit rules.
    Principles are harder to dodge around.

    The league needs to decide what it wants from this sport.
    Is the principle that sniping/ king hits are unsporting?
    Is the principle that no one should ever suffer concussion?

    The prescriptive nature of penalties jars against the subjective interpretation of player behaviour.
    It’s a mess.

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