A Glitch in the System: MRP vs Umpiring Frees

John Who

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The game of AFL has come a long way since the increased efforts of player welfare, protection of the head, in-depth analysis regarding concussion etc. On the flip side, the game of AFL remains one of the most brutal team sports known to mankind, and therefore accidents and serious injuries are likely to occur in any given year.
It has to come to the point now where I have observed an ever-increasing flaw in our attempts to reach a perfect "safety" zone installed in an AFL game. By that, I mean in recent weeks the MRP (Match Review Panel) has come into significant question on their calling regarding player penalties for accidental/wreckless injuries caused upon another player. Rightly or wrongly, there is an increasing amount of MRP calls which is going against the calling of the umpires in-game. That is, there is a glitch in the system!
Here are a few examples which highlight the divergent calls between umpires and MRP:
1. Round 7 St Kilda vs GWS - Koby Stevens sling-tackled Nathan Wilson, dropping the ball and landed heavily on his head. Stevens received a free kick by the umpire, but later got 1 week suspension for a wreckless tackle.
2. Round 19 Geelong vs Carlton - Dangerfield sling-tackled Matthew Kreuzer in a similar fashion to the Stevens tackle, resulted in a no-call by the umpires (ie. 'play-on'). Kreuzer appeared dazed, but able to carry on with the game. Later during the week, the MRP gave Dangerfield 1 week off for a wreckless tackle.
3. Game last night Collingwood vs Kangaroos - Grundy tackled Brown from behind; Brown landed head-first to the ground and was significantly concussed, whilst 'illegally disposing of the ball', and was called a free kick to Grundy. More than likely Grundy is likely to face some MRP calls later next week.

The AFL are starting to create a game whereby in-game, umpires are awarding free kick to players, and then a few days later, the MRP goes a full reversal and penalises said player who originally has a free-kick paid for! Anyone noticing these "glitches"? More importantly, what should be done about this paradoxical situation?
 

Orange Agent

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Havent seen the Grundy incident but the Stevens and Dangerfield tackles were nothing alike in my view. Stevens was rightly rubbed out, you cannot tackle like that nowadays and every player knows it. Umpires make wrong calls every match, its probably been happening for 100 years.
 

catstorm

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I've actually been wondering about something lately, If one player bumped another head on made zero contact with the head but the force caused the opponent to rebound back so fast that their head slammed against the ground would you get suspended for that?
 

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Farm Boy

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Here is where the game is at right now. The league says do not bump, so if you lead into a contest and opt to bump - instead of tackle - then you are most likely going to get suspended (if you hit the head at all). So players are encouraged to tackle. Now we are seeing even perfectly executed tackles - like Grundy's - result in likely suspensions. Players are stuffed either way. If the head is absolutely sacrosanct then the game is flawed to the point of being unplayable. MRP vs Umpiring frees is the least of the AFL's worries. This game is done.
 

Arkangel

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I don't agree with your characterisation of the discrepancy between umpires' calls and MRP decisions as paradoxical. Umpires must make fast decisions based on limited information. The MRP has greater time to consider a greater amount of evidence (e.g., various video angles of an incident). I don't think it's surprising that this would sometimes lead to different (or even opposite) outcomes.

Take today's Grundy/Brown incident, for example. It's plausible that the umpire did not see Brown's head make contact with the ground during the tackle, and therefore could not take it into consideration in his decision-making. From the video replay, however, it's obvious that this occurred. Therefore, the MRP will be able to consider it in their assessment of whether the tackle warrants some sort of action. This is not a paradox or a glitch, it's just two different scenarios where the decision-makers have access to different evidence.
 

John Who

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I don't agree with your characterisation of the discrepancy between umpires' calls and MRP decisions as paradoxical. Umpires must make fast decisions based on limited information. The MRP has greater time to consider a greater amount of evidence (e.g., various video angles of an incident). I don't think it's surprising that this would sometimes lead to different (or even opposite) outcomes.

Take today's Grundy/Brown incident, for example. It's plausible that the umpire did not see Brown's head make contact with the ground during the tackle, and therefore could not take it into consideration in his decision-making. From the video replay, however, it's obvious that this occurred. Therefore, the MRP will be able to consider it in their assessment of whether the tackle warrants some sort of action. This is not a paradox or a glitch, it's just two different scenarios where the decision-makers have access to different evidence.
The observation I'm making is that the umpires are actually making the right calls in parallel to the past 100 odd years of AFL umpiring. The paradox, is in reference to the reward in-game and then later results in a penalty/suspension on video review.
So here are some additional thoughts:
1. Are the observations from OP just random anomalies, or is it becoming a growing trend in "glitches"?
2. Are we happy to be receiving mixed messages as fans/players, where one action gets a reward (free for) and the same action leads to a penalty (fine/suspensions)?
3. Is the AFL the only sport in the world where these "glitches" occur?
4. A possible scenario may occur where a player can perform the most brilliant tackle ever in the history of the AFL. But the tackle causing the other player concussion, skull fracture, fractured ribs and a punctured lung; and then gets a 5 week suspension by the MRP. Is this where we want our game to be heading?
 
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im_a_lazy_sod

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Yeah I always find it confusing when a player can do something that sees them get fined or suspended but still earns them a free kick in the moment

It would be like a player diving to win a penalty in the champions league final, the ref overlooking it and the player getting the winning goal only to get a massive fine afterwards. Though I think they have video technology options for penalties now - or at least have it under development
 

MattyB_76

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Can we stop describing them as "perfect tackles". If the tackler lets someone's head hit the ground leading to concussion, it's clearly not perfect.
 

Sttew

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The game of AFL has come a long way since the increased efforts of player welfare, protection of the head, in-depth analysis regarding concussion etc. On the flip side, the game of AFL remains one of the most brutal team sports known to mankind, and therefore accidents and serious injuries are likely to occur in any given year.
It has to come to the point now where I have observed an ever-increasing flaw in our attempts to reach a perfect "safety" zone installed in an AFL game. By that, I mean in recent weeks the MRP (Match Review Panel) has come into significant question on their calling regarding player penalties for accidental/wreckless injuries caused upon another player. Rightly or wrongly, there is an increasing amount of MRP calls which is going against the calling of the umpires in-game. That is, there is a glitch in the system!
Here are a few examples which highlight the divergent calls between umpires and MRP:
1. Round 7 St Kilda vs GWS - Koby Stevens sling-tackled Nathan Wilson, dropping the ball and landed heavily on his head. Stevens received a free kick by the umpire, but later got 1 week suspension for a wreckless tackle.
2. Round 19 Geelong vs Carlton - Dangerfield sling-tackled Matthew Kreuzer in a similar fashion to the Stevens tackle, resulted in a no-call by the umpires (ie. 'play-on'). Kreuzer appeared dazed, but able to carry on with the game. Later during the week, the MRP gave Dangerfield 1 week off for a wreckless tackle.
3. Game last night Collingwood vs Kangaroos - Grundy tackled Brown from behind; Brown landed head-first to the ground and was significantly concussed, whilst 'illegally disposing of the ball', and was called a free kick to Grundy. More than likely Grundy is likely to face some MRP calls later next week.

The AFL are starting to create a game whereby in-game, umpires are awarding free kick to players, and then a few days later, the MRP goes a full reversal and penalises said player who originally has a free-kick paid for! Anyone noticing these "glitches"? More importantly, what should be done about this paradoxical situation?
Firstly, Dangerfield's tackle was not a sling tackle.

Secondly and more importantly the MRP has become Gillon's tool for obsessing with outcomes because he is too gutless to change rules of the game. So umpires overlook a legal tackle that has unintended consequences but in comes the MRP, treating any act that results in injury as an act of thuggery.

Read Malcolm Knox's article in yesterday's Age
 

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mick500

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It's not a glitch it's an epidemic.

The cause?

Basing suspensions on injur and not actions. Players perform the same action 100 times in a game and get rewarded for it because it's perfectly legal. Comes out later that the player got injured and it's a suspension for the same action that was rewarded 100 times previously.

Players don't know what they can and can't do.

And no the Dangerfield incident wasn't the same. It wasn a legal tackle because the ball was well and truly gone and Dangerfield held on and drove him in to the ground needlessly.
 

JuniorWatch

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Players are taught from a young age to pin the arms and if possible bring the player to ground.
Grundy did both things without slinging or doing a double movement.
Concussion is a big problem for contact sports around the world and i've written articles about it in the AFL and it leading to the end of the NFL in the States.
The AFL has been excellent is foreseeing this problem and trying to correct it.
However, as one poster mentioned, they've heavily punished players for electing to bump in order to encourage tackling.
What makes this case interesting is that we seem to have hit a line between protecting the head and protecting the physicality of the game.
The only thing wrong with this tackle was the result and i feel for both players. But if the game is to continue to be the cauldron of chaos that we turn up for then....play on.
 

Topkent

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Here is where the game is at right now. The league says do not bump, so if you lead into a contest and opt to bump - instead of tackle - then you are most likely going to get suspended (if you hit the head at all). So players are encouraged to tackle. Now we are seeing even perfectly executed tackles - like Grundy's - result in likely suspensions. Players are stuffed either way. If the head is absolutely sacrosanct then the game is flawed to the point of being unplayable. MRP vs Umpiring frees is the least of the AFL's worries. This game is done.
Yep it has reached a point of mini crisis. It's a full contact sport played at a high speed with players coming from all directions meaning you can't always brace for contact. You can't keep penalizing players for accidents and at some point the AFL needs to sit down and draw out a contract with the AFLPA that states they can't be sued down the line for any incidental or accidental contact
 

John Who

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Can we stop describing them as "perfect tackles". If the tackler lets someone's head hit the ground leading to concussion, it's clearly not perfect.
I can give you the perfect counter-argument:
If someone leaps as high as a 2-storey house to take BEST mark EVER, and in the process, flykicks someones' head, knees someone in the neck, and then causes a stress fracture to the foot of another player upon landing...can I still call it the "perfect mark"?
Another way of looking at it, do you honestly think with all the years of Mark of the Year awards, there has been no headaches or bruising sustained by other players being at the bottom of these huge pack marks?
 
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Topkent

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Perhaps we should clear something up. A "perfectly executed" tackle tends not to result in the recipient being taken to hospital by ambulance.
In your opinion. A perfect tackle is one that results in a holding the ball free kick paid by the umpire 10m away. A perfect result is the player gets up after it
 

Sttew

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For Gillon to say unequivocally "everything is fine" tells me he is out of his depth, just as his decision to sack two senior executives for having relationships with consenting adults demonstrated the guy is out of his depth
 

Franc de Borges

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If you tackle then fall in an opponent's back, the 'in the back' free is paid, not 'holding the ball'. Same should occur if you drive their head into the turf.

It's categorically not a perfect tackle.
 

SherbertLemon

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Brad Scott and Damien Barrett are grubby campaigners who are ruining the game. It was the perfect tackle.

Brad Scott is pissing and moaning (as usual) that his big key forward is injured, and you can't really blame him.

BUT DON'T BULLSHIT ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF THE TACKLE AND FORCE UNWANTED CHANGE.

We're playing a contact sport you absolute panzies. Pinned the arms, can't dipose. Put him to ground, can't affect the contest.

Free kick Grundy, EAD AFL. EAD Barrett, EAD Scott.
 

John Who

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I really need to get this off my chest. The point of this thread is this..

The AFL is trying to encourage more people to participate in the sport, and making it a head-safe environment. Unfortunately, the question they're posing is "how can we make it 100% head-safe environment, whilst still allowing the physicality of our game to remain where it was?" They are simply posing a question where the answer becomes undefined/illogical/impossible. You can never rid of accidents and unintentional harm. You can never guarantee concussions won't occur in ANY contact sports.
Suspending a player for an unintentional head-knock to another player, is simply ruining the fabric of our game. There needs to be a serious discussion on how to make it "safe" for an AFL game, whilst acknowledging the "accidents do happen" part. Suspending players due to the end result of the head-knock accident (nil effect vs concussion), is something that needs to be heavily scrutinised on whether this is the right way to go, and what needs to be revised.
 

perplexed

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The tackler has an obligation to protect the head of the player he is tackling.
If he fails to do this he should be punished, with the punishment determined by a combination of intent and injury caused.
 

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