The AFL world has hit out in disgust and disbelief over the Tribunal's controversial decision to uphold the ban on Melbourne's Jacob van Rooyen. The Demons have indicated they will consider appealing the verdict after van Rooyen's two-game ban for a dangerous spoil was upheld in a decision that has left the AFL community seething.
Van Rooyen's attempted spoil in a marking contest led to Gold Coast's Charlie Ballard being taken off the field on a stretcher on Saturday night, with the Suns later clearing him of injury and declaring him free to train this week before Friday night's game against West Coast. Van Rooyen's action was considered careless conduct, high contact and high impact, with the Demons arguing that the action wasn't careless given it was a legitimate attempt to spoil.
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Van Rooyen twice looked up at the ball on his way to making the spoil and he knocked back the suggestion from AFL counsel Andrew Woods that he should have slowed up to protect his opponent. "I don't think I would have been near the spoil if I had slowed up," van Rooyen said during his evidence.
"I didn't think I was going to make contact with Ballard's head. I was just trying to go for the ball and I think I did a good job at that.
"I'm either touching the ball, or within millimetres of it. It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone."
"If Jacob van Rooyen gets suspended for that, we have become a hostage to litigation." - Browny has his say on the incident.
📺Watch #OnTheCouch on Ch. 504 or stream via @kayosports: https://t.co/cy5fYmMShl pic.twitter.com/0bY87zWg1D
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) May 8, 2023
Woods argued van Rooyen's decision to not look at the ball for the crucial final few metres had led to the dangerous situation. The jury - led by chairman Jeff Gleeson - said the force of the blow was considerable and van Rooyen's actions were careless.
"We find that a reasonable player would have foreseen that in spoiling in the way he did, it would almost inevitably have resulted in a forceful blow to Ballard's head," Gleeson said. "He launched and extended his arm out and across Ballard's head. This was not permitted incidental contact."
AFL world loses it over Tribunal's Jacob van Rooyen call
That explanation, particularly the use of the term "reasonable player", left the footy world incensed, with AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson labelling it "absolute rubbish" in a fiery on-air rant. “You’ve got to be kidding,” Robinson said.
“So we’re gonna get back to that stupid bloody comment saying ‘oh what happens if you knee someone in the head going for a mark?’ That’s what people say, it’s an inane comment – he went to spoil and not hurt the bloke. It’s absolute rubbish, mate.”
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) May 9, 2023
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) May 9, 2023
— Caty Price (@caty_price) May 9, 2023
Van Rooyen & Close bans both upheld…
What an absolute joke 🤦🏻♂️
League going to shambles #AFL
— Tim Kennedy (@PuntKing23) May 9, 2023
AFL Tribunal absolutely cooked this season.
Two joke decisions in the same night, Close and Van Rooyen should have both been let off.
AFL needs a new leader and MRO/Tribunal needs to be overhauled #AFL
— Pizza Safety (@VictorianBias) May 9, 2023
I’m genuinely puzzled. Has to be a pi5s take? https://t.co/HHtc8ZzMUH
— Clint Stanaway (@cstanaway) May 9, 2023
On a night of dram at the Tribunal, Lachie Neale helped Carlton's Nic Newman escape suspension for a strike on the Brisbane ace that was classified as intentional conduct, low impact and high contact. Neale submitted a letter saying his attempt to push Newman away was effectively the main reason why Newman's left elbow made contact with his chin.
Geelong forward Brad Close also failed to overturn his one-match ban for a dangerous tackle on Adelaide's Jordan Dawson. He will miss Friday night's blockbuster clash against Richmond at the MCG.
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