MRP / Trib. Marlion Pickett, Umpires and the MRO. What is going on here?

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Norm Smith Medallist
Feb 4, 2008
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A relatively minor but nevertheless disturbing trend seems to be developing regarding the way Marlion Pickett is being officiated by umpires, but moreso by the MRO.

Marlion Pickett is an indigenous man, and as we know has spent time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, for breaking the law when he was a young man. I have watched every AFL game he has played on TV. He is a vigorous, no nonsense, but law abiding footballer. He doesn’t argue with umpires, stage, whinge, or in any way try to seek attention. He just gets on with it. If he needs to play at VFL level, he just applies himself and plays the same as if he was playing in the AFL. I enjoy watching him play, and just as much as that if not more, I admire the way he conducts himself. He is not the best player in the AFL, he is not the worst. He is a good AFL footballer. At his best, a very good AFL footballer. He seems to have won the respect of everyone at Richmond. He will have had to adjust his instinctive style of football fairly radically to be getting a game at Richmond, that cannot be easy, so he is very committed. This year he seems to be in great form, and this is good to see.

But what is going on with the umpires and MRO in relation to Marlion? Umpires we know get one look at things and are prone to errors as a result. They can miss seeing crucial bits of play and can also be fooled by players' cynical actions. We have all become accustomed to the frustrating reality that it is often the retaliator who gets caught by the umpire. So we mostly accept it and complain when it goes against our team, and chuckle when it falls our team's way.

But the MRO, that is entirely different. He gets to consider an incident after viewing it as many times as he needs to. He does not have to make a snap decision under pressure. And he can choose to watch every element of an incident, every player's movements and behaviours and he should be able to get a good understanding of every incident from doing this.

As of last week’s round of matches there are now two MRO decisions in relation to Pickett that trouble me. They trouble me to a small extent because I disagree with the MRO’s decision in relation to what Marlion Pickett did. I thought the first one warranted a free kick and no more, and the second one not even that. But I can see how others may see those differently. So I don’t agree with these decisions, but I can just about understand how someone may think Marlion’s penalties were fair, though much less so in the second case below.

What really troubles me is that Marlion Pickett copped treatment from an opponent at least as bad as what he was penalised for in both cases, and presumably because he did not draw attention to the contact he suffered, the umpires and particularly MRO chose to ignore it completely.

Richmond appealed the first case to the Tribunal and the decision to suspend Pickett for a week was upheld. The tribunal of course had no jurisdiction to consider what led up to this incident like the umpires and MRO have, so their hands were tied regarding that.

Let’s have a look at the two incidents, hopefully the footage links work here:

Case 1

Rd 10, 2021, Brisbane v Richmond. Bailey on Pickett, Pickett on Starcevich.

Pay particular attention to the swinging arm tackle applied by Zac Bailey that hits Pickett with sufficient force around the neck and head region to rock Pickett’s head back. It should have been a free kick for a high tackle, but we assume the umpire missed it, somehow. Pickett does not go to ground. But the footage from the 11 second mark clearly shows his head being contacted and rocked back. What follows of course is Pickett, adrenalin flowing, and no doubt angry at being hit in the head, and likely angry he hasn’t been awarded a free kick, applies a very vigorous high tackle around the shoulder, upper chest and neck area of Starcevich. There did not appear to be any significant contact to the head. The umpires could not miss this one and the MRO and Tribunal certainly didn’t. Free kick = correct. 1 match suspension = very debatable, and it was debated at the time. Umpire missing the vigorous swinging arm head high tackle on Pickett that proceeded it = wrong. MRO missing the same act by Bailey = mystifying. Not mentioned, not assessed even, as far as we were ever told. If Pickett had voluntarily or involuntarily gone to ground, from the exact same hit, would this have been assessed differently? Well, you would hope the sole determinant is not the player being strong or honest enough to keep his feet, but let’s have a look at case 2….

Case 1 Commentators: “strike, waddaya think?” "Err not sure, it was high"





Case 2

Rd 3, 2022, St Kilda v Richmond Butler on Pickett, Pickett on Butler

Have a look at the footage here:



Both players ahead of the ball waiting for a long set shot at goal, or ball set up to the top of the square, or a lead and pass. Pickett defending, Butler attacking.

The footage commences with Butler and Pickett at first quite fairly jostling for position, with the potential of a Butler lead. They make some light but reasonable contact. At around the 5 second mark Butler unprovoked pushes Pickett in the back without too much force. At the 6 second mark Pickett turns around and pushes Butler in the front of his shoulder, with similarly light force. Butler pleads to the umpire who presumably he notices is not watching because he then decides to push Pickett in the back with a little more force, around the 8 second mark. The force is enough to knock Pickett slightly off balance, but he keeps his feet. Pickett again turns around and this time pushes Butler to the solar plexus region, again with similar force to what Butler had just applied to him. Butler goes down as if shot and gets up immediately to celebrate a 50m penalty being paid to his team, so clearly was not hurt.

So in this case both players have pushed each other with roughly equal force, on each occasion Butler acting first. Pickett chooses to keep his feet, Butler chooses to go to the ground. It is clear to all that Butler dived, to try to win a free kick or 50m penalty. The umpire fell for it, wrong, but we accept this happens, regrettably. But the MRO? He seems to have punished Pickett further for Butler’s dive. He found Pickett guilty of striking and issued a $3k fine, down to $2k with an early guilty plea.

Case 2 Commentators: “staging"

Now go back and look at the Bailey nothing to see here hit on Pickett and compare it with the Pickett “strike” on Butler….the Bailey swinging arm hit rocks Pickett’s head back, but he stands up. The Pickett push caused Butler to dive like Greg Louganis and hit the deck like a ton of bricks, but had no significant force whatsoever.


What is going on here?
 

Jack5

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Have you considered that it could be racism? How many indigenous people work at AFL HQ? I couldn't find any involved in the MRO, tribunal or appeals process in 2021 based on the annual report. Can't imagine much has changed. AFL talk a big game on indigenous issues but they don't walk the talk themselves, that's for everyone else.
 

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HairyO

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I didnt read any of the rant but Im 100% onboard. Wont someone think of the children !!
 

Daniel B

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I didnt read any of the rant but Im 100% onboard. Wont someone think of the children !!
Jeff is that you?

EOXQanPUEAAOuls.jpg
 

Outback Footy

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I agree with the premise, Picketts doing the right thing and getting pinged by more "professional" players diving. Unfortunately he might be getting a rep for retaliating which oppo players are likely to try to use agaist him.

MRO in both instances absolutely pitiful decisions. MRO has the opportunity to review what leads to retaliation, unps often miss the instigation, understandable, not understandable from the MRO
 

tropicaltiger

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suffers the same as toby green, mitch robbo, maynard, libba, and a few others they are tough and hard as a cat head who the umps like to make it nearly impossible to earn a free coz afl agenda want it to be a soft (contact causes scrappy play) game now and outlaw them for the non contact game
they want 100 pt games and a way to avoid all the flood lawsuits that the rough and tumble old game style are heading their way.
 

docko911

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Seems possible the AFL are a racist bunch of scumbags… Just look at how favourably that racist Tex Walker was treated last night.
 

Vassp

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A relatively minor but nevertheless disturbing trend seems to be developing regarding the way Marlion Pickett is being officiated by umpires, but moreso by the MRO.

Marlion Pickett is an indigenous man, and as we know has spent time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, for breaking the law when he was a young man. I have watched every AFL game he has played on TV. He is a vigorous, no nonsense, but law abiding footballer. He doesn’t argue with umpires, stage, whinge, or in any way try to seek attention. He just gets on with it. If he needs to play at VFL level, he just applies himself and plays the same as if he was playing in the AFL. I enjoy watching him play, and just as much as that if not more, I admire the way he conducts himself. He is not the best player in the AFL, he is not the worst. He is a good AFL footballer. At his best, a very good AFL footballer. He seems to have won the respect of everyone at Richmond. He will have had to adjust his instinctive style of football fairly radically to be getting a game at Richmond, that cannot be easy, so he is very committed. This year he seems to be in great form, and this is good to see.

But what is going on with the umpires and MRO in relation to Marlion? Umpires we know get one look at things and are prone to errors as a result. They can miss seeing crucial bits of play and can also be fooled by players' cynical actions. We have all become accustomed to the frustrating reality that it is often the retaliator who gets caught by the umpire. So we mostly accept it and complain when it goes against our team, and chuckle when it falls our team's way.

But the MRO, that is entirely different. He gets to consider an incident after viewing it as many times as he needs to. He does not have to make a snap decision under pressure. And he can choose to watch every element of an incident, every player's movements and behaviours and he should be able to get a good understanding of every incident from doing this.

As of last week’s round of matches there are now two MRO decisions in relation to Pickett that trouble me. They trouble me to a small extent because I disagree with the MRO’s decision in relation to what Marlion Pickett did. I thought the first one warranted a free kick and no more, and the second one not even that. But I can see how others may see those differently. So I don’t agree with these decisions, but I can just about understand how someone may think Marlion’s penalties were fair, though much less so in the second case below.

What really troubles me is that Marlion Pickett copped treatment from an opponent at least as bad as what he was penalised for in both cases, and presumably because he did not draw attention to the contact he suffered, the umpires and particularly MRO chose to ignore it completely.

Richmond appealed the first case to the Tribunal and the decision to suspend Pickett for a week was upheld. The tribunal of course had no jurisdiction to consider what led up to this incident like the umpires and MRO have, so their hands were tied regarding that.

Let’s have a look at the two incidents, hopefully the footage links work here:

Case 1

Rd 10, 2021, Brisbane v Richmond. Bailey on Pickett, Pickett on Starcevich.

Pay particular attention to the swinging arm tackle applied by Zac Bailey that hits Pickett with sufficient force around the neck and head region to rock Pickett’s head back. It should have been a free kick for a high tackle, but we assume the umpire missed it, somehow. Pickett does not go to ground. But the footage from the 11 second mark clearly shows his head being contacted and rocked back. What follows of course is Pickett, adrenalin flowing, and no doubt angry at being hit in the head, and likely angry he hasn’t been awarded a free kick, applies a very vigorous high tackle around the shoulder, upper chest and neck area of Starcevich. There did not appear to be any significant contact to the head. The umpires could not miss this one and the MRO and Tribunal certainly didn’t. Free kick = correct. 1 match suspension = very debatable, and it was debated at the time. Umpire missing the vigorous swinging arm head high tackle on Pickett that proceeded it = wrong. MRO missing the same act by Bailey = mystifying. Not mentioned, not assessed even, as far as we were ever told. If Pickett had voluntarily or involuntarily gone to ground, from the exact same hit, would this have been assessed differently? Well, you would hope the sole determinant is not the player being strong or honest enough to keep his feet, but let’s have a look at case 2….

Case 1 Commentators: “strike, waddaya think?” "Err not sure, it was high"





Case 2

Rd 3, 2022, St Kilda v Richmond Butler on Pickett, Pickett on Butler

Have a look at the footage here:



Both players ahead of the ball waiting for a long set shot at goal, or ball set up to the top of the square, or a lead and pass. Pickett defending, Butler attacking.

The footage commences with Butler and Pickett at first quite fairly jostling for position, with the potential of a Butler lead. They make some light but reasonable contact. At around the 5 second mark Butler unprovoked pushes Pickett in the back without too much force. At the 6 second mark Pickett turns around and pushes Butler in the front of his shoulder, with similarly light force. Butler pleads to the umpire who presumably he notices is not watching because he then decides to push Pickett in the back with a little more force, around the 8 second mark. The force is enough to knock Pickett slightly off balance, but he keeps his feet. Pickett again turns around and this time pushes Butler to the solar plexus region, again with similar force to what Butler had just applied to him. Butler goes down as if shot and gets up immediately to celebrate a 50m penalty being paid to his team, so clearly was not hurt.

So in this case both players have pushed each other with roughly equal force, on each occasion Butler acting first. Pickett chooses to keep his feet, Butler chooses to go to the ground. It is clear to all that Butler dived, to try to win a free kick or 50m penalty. The umpire fell for it, wrong, but we accept this happens, regrettably. But the MRO? He seems to have punished Pickett further for Butler’s dive. He found Pickett guilty of striking and issued a $3k fine, down to $2k with an early guilty plea.

Case 2 Commentators: “staging"

Now go back and look at the Bailey nothing to see here hit on Pickett and compare it with the Pickett “strike” on Butler….the Bailey swinging arm hit rocks Pickett’s head back, but he stands up. The Pickett push caused Butler to dive like Greg Louganis and hit the deck like a ton of bricks, but had no significant force whatsoever.


What is going on here?

I can sum it up in a few words, no one with sport smarts is making up the rules at the rules committee and the AFL. its not corrupt,it’s downright NOT A CLUE. Just look at our rules for a perfect example.
 

Meteoric Rise

Norm Smith Medallist
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OK, let’s have some opinions on Marlion getting graded high contact medium impact for this hip first side bump to the body of Dylan Moore, who went to ground, took one deep breath, sprung to his feet and played on unhampered. What is going on here? The MRO has deemed this a one week suspension. The fact it happens to be the week of the Dreamtime game where Pickett has designed the jumper that tells his story should be irrelevant to the decision, but it magnifies the disappointment for the player. Hopefully he appeals and it is overturned. This seems laughably wrong.

1652664292790.png
 
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Sttew

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It's a pleasant change for the OP not to be ranting about conflicts of interest relating to Geelong

Or have I jumped the gun?
 

Meteoric Rise

Norm Smith Medallist
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It's a pleasant change for the OP not to be ranting about conflicts of interest relating to Geelong

Or have I jumped the gun?

Take your conflict of interest thoughts to the conflict of interest threads Sttew.

But the 3 decisions in this thread are all effectively made by Steve Hocking and Brad Scott. What is going on with the MRO and Marlion in your opinion?
 

hawkman

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Looks like a usual 1 weeker to me. Moore was down in the rooms for awhile after that
 

Meteoric Rise

Norm Smith Medallist
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I have not seen any evidence of that. Did you watch the gif I posted in post # 13 on this thread? At what point is any part of Pickett touching Moore’s head?

The still shot posted by me at post # 12 also seems to show Pickett has led with his hip. Something that seems to be confirmed by the gif. It is in fact a perfect bumping technique, hip and shoulder side bump to the body.
 
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Meteoric Rise

Norm Smith Medallist
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That to me does possibly show some head contact. Would you agree Moore’s body action is consistent with being hit hard to the torso and the main thing making his head jolt back is a whiplash type action? There does not seem to be any significant force by Pickett to the head of Moore imo.
 

hawkman

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That to me does possibly show some head contact. Would you agree Moore’s body action is consistent with being hit hard to the torso and the main thing making his head jolt back is a whiplash type action? There does not seem to be any significant force by Pickett to the head of Moore imo.
It is a mix of upper body and head. Still enough contact to the head to be suspendable. There would probably also have been something in the medical report as well given Moore was down in the rooms for awhile afterwards
 

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