Controversial van Rooyen AFL ban thrown out on appeal

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Jacob van Rooyen's controversial striking ban has been thrown out on appeal, leaving the young Melbourne talent free to play Hawthorn on Saturday.

The AFL's Appeals Board agreed with his lawyer's argument the two-game striking ban he'd copped was an error of law, after they'd been pointed to the code's specific rules on marking.

The panel deliberated for more than two hours before deciding they "can't redraft the laws of Australian football" and tossing out the ban.

Emerging star van Rooyen had been cited for a dangerous spoil, where his arm hit the head of Gold Coast's Charlie Ballard, sparking mass frustration across the AFL spectrum due to the seemingly harsh penalty for a football action.

Van Rooyen's lawyer Will Houghton argued there was a "positive power" in the laws of the game allowing a player contesting a mark to make incidental contact with another player.

"That is a protection given to a player against being reported for an offence when that player's sole objective is to contest ... a mark and incidental contact takes place," he said.

Tuesday's tribunal hearing had accepted van Rooyen was only intending to spoil the football, yet still found him guilty and imposed the ban.

Houghton said limiting a player's protection under the rule wasn't permitted as it "excuses conduct that would be seen to be careless".

"If the rule doesn't exist for that reason, it would be pointless," he said.

Appeal Board chair Murray Kellam noted the specific rule - law 18.5 of Australian football - contains no clause regarding "reasonable contact", while other similar rules do.

"(It) refers only to incidental contact and makes no mention of unreasonable contact," he said.

"These other laws, in our view, and the drafting of them support the contentions of the appellant that law 18.5 must be read in its terms."

AFL lawyer Andrew Woods said the league's position is a player can have a sole objective of spoiling, but if they execute it carelessly they breach a duty of care owed to other players.

He said if that wasn't accepted players had a "blank cheque" to not reasonably care for opponents.

Kellam addressed that claim and admitted it had validity.

"(But) that does not permit us to interpret rule 18.5 as containing additional words ... it's not for this board to redraft the laws of Australian football," he said.

Speaking before the appeal on Thursday, Melbourne teammate Jake Lever said van Rooyen's suspension could change Australian football moving forward.

"If he does get off, the game continues, but if he doesn't, I think then it's going to be a bit confusing and the game might change a bit," Lever said.

"Any rule change does (change the fabric of the game), or anything that happens in the tribunal that's always a conversation, but for us, we'll just see what happens."