AFL to look at bump rules after season

Roger Vaughan

The AFL will review its controversial rules around high bumps at the end of the season amid furore over the Ryan Burton incident.

AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking is adamant the right call was made on the Hawthorn defender.

But there have been shifts in bumps laws over the last few years and Hocking says the league will look at them again after the season.

"That's a longer-term conversation - of course we will," he said on Tuesday.

Match reviewer Michael Christian cleared Burton after his bump concussed North Melbourne utility Shaun Higgins on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

Ryan Burton's (r) collision with Shaun Higgins has prompted the AFL to review its bump rules

Higgins was hospitalised and needed surgery for a badly-cut lip.

The bump is one of the game's hottest topics, especially given concerns in international sport around concussion.

Hocking said the feeling in the game is that the bump should be retained.

The league's ruling on Burton is that he executed properly and Higgins' concussion happened because of secondary and accidental head contact.

"No-one wants to see players concussed," Hocking said.

"But in this case, in our view, going through all of that, Burton has executed the bump and it's accidental."

There are a number of provisions in the tribunal guidelines around high bumps and Hocking said Burton was in the clear with most of them.

"In our view, he's ticked all the right boxes," Hocking said.

"We're comfortable on that adjudication, on those guidelines, it's landed where it's needed to.

"We're not here to suspend guys for accidents.

"If we suspend him for that, we're throwing the bump out of the game and I'm not sure that we should."

Hocking also defended the decision to fine Hawthorn's Brownlow Medal fancy Tom Mitchell for misconduct after he elbowed Todd Goldstein in the head.

In round four, Richmond's Jack Graham received a one-game ban for a similar offence.

Had Mitchell been suspended, he would be ineligible for the Brownlow.

But Hocking said unlike the Graham incident, the umpire closest to Mitchell strongly felt there was not enough force to warrant a striking charge.