A trio of AFL Tribunal cases were heard on Tuesday night after two players were referred directly to the Tribunal by the Match Review Officer, while St Kilda decided to challenge Dan Butler's one-game suspension for rough conduct.
You can find the details on each case below as they happened.
Sicily, Hawks lose at Tribunal
James Sicily has seen his three-game ban upheld. He will be available for selection come Round 18.
"His teammate Tyler Brockman leapt across the back of the rotating McCluggage and made contact with him.
"But Sicily kept clinging on to McCluggage and kept rotating him. We do not accept that Brockman's involvement caused an otherwise safe tackle to be dangerous.
"Sicily continued to rotate McCluggage, pulling down on his left arm and pinning his left arm, causing this tackle to be dangerous. He could have released the left arm, had he done so McCluggage would not have been rotated across his body and into the ground with such force.
"Accordingly, we find this was a dangerous tackle.
"We did not accept that there are exceptional and compelling circumstances here. Two matters were raised. As to the first, it may be that Brockman's involvement changed the force of the impact, but we can't be sufficiently satisfied as to the extent. If Brockman wasn't there, McCluggage would still have been rotated into the ground with force.
"As to the second, we accept without hesitation that Mr. Sicily was remorseful and immediately quite shaken by the injury to McCluggage he did not intend. This does not constitute exceptional and compelling circumstances.
"We impose a sanction of three weeks suspension."
9:03: The jury is off to deliberate. Verdict soon.
8:56: Tehan: Centrally, for the resolution of this case, Sicily's effect on the contest was influenced by Mr Brockman. That is what differentiates this case from the others.
Tehan mentioned the "extreme and unusual nature of this incident".
"A three-week penalty is inapt. We say three weeks would be inappropriate and unusual given Mr Brockman's involvement."
Tehan: Sicily showed extreme remorse and care, firstly on the field, and then after the game.
8:49: Tehan: It was a safe tackle by Mr Sicily, but because of Brockman's involvement the incident became one which caused injury.
8:43: Tehan: Brockman launches into the contest, and crashes into both players in an attempt to win the ball, it has effects on both players.
Brockman makes contact to McCluagge's back and it results effectively in McCluagge moving into a flexed trunk and hinged position, and therefore changes the tackle.
8:36: Tehan calls on the Tribunal to recognise Sicily is off-balance and not in a perfect position to execute the tackle.
Tehan: "Sicily is dislodged from his straight line toward McClugagge and is placed off-balance" as a result of Coleman's push.
8:34: Tehan touches on the vision showing McCluagge's right arm, which is his free arm, makes contact to the ground before the 'rest of his body'.
8:27: Hawthorn Counsel Myles Tehan: Self evidently, tackling is part of Australian Football. It is a physical aspect and it carries with it some risk. But under the rules, a legal tackle can be done by holding the player from the front, side or behind.
Tehan: Successful tackles result in either a free kick being awarded or achieving a ball up/neutralising a contest. Almost every instance involves holding a player's arm(s). We say that assessing this incident, a tackle which sees a player's arms being held is a fundamental part of a legal tackle, not an additional act which converts a tackle from being legal to illegal.
8:22: AFL Counsel Lisa Hannon: Player McCluggage was in a vulnerable position with his left arm pinned, and it was more difficult to protect himself. His Right arm, which was released, was trailing behind him. The tackle rotated McClugage into the ground with excessive force. The action wasn't significantly influenced. The motion of the tackle itself, rather than Brockman's intervention, created the force."
8:15: Bradshaw: It might've been more of a straight turn (had it not been for Brockman's influence).
Bradshaw said there wasn't much Sicily could've done to prevent McClugagge's head from hitting the ground when Brockman's influence in the incident began.
Bradshaw: "It was out of his contract due to the influence of Brockman."
8:03: Hawthorn are hoping to call on expert evidence from Deakin University biomechanist Liz Bradshaw.
7:50: Sicily: I was in disbelief. It's not something nice to feel, seeing someone motionless.
Sicily: I wanted to see if (McClugagge) was okay. Post-game I walked over (to Brisbane's rooms) and reached out to Cam Bruce to see if (McClugagge) was still in the rooms, to reiterate I didn't know he was unconscious and that I didn't push him on purpose. I also wanted to see if he was okay. We had a conversation, I immediately asked him if he was okay, he said yes, I assured him I didn't push him knowingly that he was unconscious.
7:45: Sicily said the contact from both Coleman and subsequently Brockman "felt as though I was in a washing machine and 'spun around'. I felt as if (my momentum) was accelerated."
7:40: Sicily: It would have been poor leadership to not make that tackle at that stage of the match
Sicily said he was aiming to tackle McCluggage by the hips, as he is often educated to do in attempting to motion a perfect tackle. Sicily says he felt a push from Keidean Coleman at the beginning of the incident. Sicily notes there was also "influence" from Tyler Brockman.
Sicily says he was not aware of Brockman's presence.
7:38: Sicily: We practice (tackling) nearly three times a week. We have received numerous education from the AFL as to how it should look and the duty of care that you have.
Sicily confirms he reviewed the league's examples of tackling sent to clubs in recent weeks.
7:35: McCluggage has required no further investigation into his injury but will require ongoing treatment. He is expected to miss a minimum of 11 training days and one game.
7:30pm : Hawthorn have accepted the severe grading and high contact grading, and are challenging the careless grading for conduct. A successful challenge would see Sicily cleared to play.
James Sicily has been referred directly to the tribunal for rough conduct following this incident with Hugh McCluggage.
— AFL (@AFL) June 11, 2023
Tigers unsuccessful in Mansell challenge
The three-game ban has been upheld. Mansell won't be free to return until Round 18.
"James Aish and Rhyan Mansell were both pursuing a loose ball at high speed. Aish was running with the flight and then the fall and bounce of the ball. Mansell was running from approximately the opposite direction towards the flight and bounce of the ball at a slight angle to Aish.
"They collided heavily and Aish suffered a concussion. The charge of rough conduct was brought first under the rough conduct advanced provision, and second under the general rough conduct provision.
"As for the former, the first question is whether Mansell was in the act of bumping Aish. We find that he was.
"Although he approached the contest at speed, the vision shows that from a metre or two from the point of impact where Mansell bumps Aish, that this was not simply a reflexive or involuntary bumping into an opponent. It was a bump.
"It's important to note that under this provision, it does not matter whether the bump was reasonable or unreasonable. The only question is whether Mansell bumped Aish. We find that he did. This bump caused forceful contact to Aish's head.
"The question then arises as to whether Mansell was contesting the ball. We find that he was not. Again from a metre or two prior to the collision he turned and his hands were not reaching for the ball.
"The charge is upheld and the sanction of three weeks suspension is imposed."
6:40: The jury has left to deliberate.
6:31: Richmond submit that this was a genuine contest between two players, that Mansell had 0.2 seconds to react for a collision, that Mansell's eyes were on the ball, that he had a direct line on the ball and that it was not until the final bonce that it is clear Aish will win the ball, and that Mansell was bracing for impact and not seeking to drive through with a bump.
6:28: Richmond has highlighted that a player with the purpose to bump would move into a bracing motion well prior to contact, whereas Mansell only changed his position at the last second before contact.
Tovey: "You might readily expect to see that motion occur before the final split second."
6:25: Richmond has called on vision of the incident from an angle behind Aish that shows Mansell's eyes are set on the ball before the collision.
6:20: Richmond Counsel Sam Tovey is going through the incident frame by frame, highlighting the final bounce of the ball between Mansell and Aish.
Tovey: If the ball had taken its expected trajectory, Mansell would've been the one to be first to the ball. It's at that latest of points that the bounce favours Aish and that Aish takes possession.
Tovey: It was a legitimate and responsible commitment to the contest. (Mansell) had as good as a chance as Aish (before the bounce).
6:15: The AFL is seeking a suspension of no longer than three matches.
6:12: The AFL is arguing Mansell wasn't contesting the ball at the time of the bump, or if the Tribunal is against that, that it was unreasonable for Mansell to contest the ball.
AFL Counsel Lisa Hannon: (Mansell) could have tackled player Aish. (Aish) could've been legally tackled.
(Mansell) could've slowed and reduced the level of force of the collision.
6:00: Mansell: We were both going in with speed, I had my eyes on the football the whole time, it was that last split second I knew we were going to collide.
5:52: Mansell: My focus was to win the ball. I was looking at the football. I was running straight towards the football.
Mansell: I knew we were going to collide, so I slightly turned.
5:49: A medical report from Fremantle has stated ongoing assessment of James Aish is still required, with Aish's return to play to be made clearer following further examinations, however it is expected he misses multiple matches.
5:44pm: Richmond are pleading not guilty to the charge, stating Mansell's action were not of a 'bumping' action.
— AFL (@AFL) June 10, 2023
Saints, Butler win in dangerous tackle challenge
"Butler said in evidence, and we accept, that he tried to turn Blakey to his side, so as to avoid giving away a free kick for push in the back.
"We find that given the speed Butler was travelling, and the angle from which he approached Blakey, it was inevitable that he would tackle Blakey to the ground. That does not of itself make this tackle a dangerous tackle. But neither does it mean that Butler owes no duty of care.
"The question is how did he execute the tackle? Was the method reasonable in all circumstances? We are not persuaded that this was a two-action tackle.
"We consider that Butler did not drive Blakey into the ground with his legs, which we note he was dropped to the side and had no real power from the commencement of the tackle.
"We also find that he did not drive Blakey to the ground with his arms. Rather, he fell to the ground with Blakey as a result of the momentum of the tackle.
"Importantly, Butler released Blakey's defensive arm towards the end of the tackling motion. This was not immediately apparent at normal speed viewing and even at slow motion viewing from some angles. But once it was revealed, both in slow motion footage from one angle and then a still shot, it is clear that Butler made a conscious decision to release Blakey's arm so that he might brace for impact.
"The question is not whether he released him in time for it to be effective, although we find that it did slightly help Blakey to brace for contact. The question is whether he did so as early as he reasonably could.
"We find that he did.
"Releasing an arm or not pinning it will not always be enough to avoid breaching the duty of care. But here, where the fact that the tackled player will be brought to ground was inevitable and unavoidable, it was an important consideration.
"We find that this was not a careless act and the charge is dismissed."
4:56: The jury is now deliberating. Verdict incoming.
4:55: Flynn: Butler's record doesn't reach the level of exceptional and compelling circumstances that should see the charge cleared.
4:53: Flynn: While Butler does look to let go of Blakey before he reaches the ground, the AFL argues it was not soon enough. It's a matter of timing in the releasing of the arms.
4:49: Rush has called on the jury to take into account Butler's strong record, having only been previously charged for involvement in a melee in 2021.
Rush also touched on the fact that Butler is second in the AFL for most effective tackles in the forward 50, and first for "pressure points" in the forward 50.
4:44: Rush: The fact Blakey was cleared in the medical report "is an important outcome".
4:37: St Kilda Counsel Jack Rush has argued that Butler did not breach his duty of care to Blakey and that he did not use two motions in the tackle.
Rush: It is important to take into account, piece by piece, that this is a tackle a reasonably prudent player would hope for.
4:28: AFL Counsel Sally Flynn has counted with the argument that both of Blakey's arms were pinned and that he did not have enough time to brace for impact ith the ground.
Flynn: Butler's conduct constitutes rough conduct and that he breached the duty of care of the player to other players.
Flynn: It was open to Butler to release Blakey, or maintain the tackle but not act with the second motion in driving him into the ground with force.
Flynn highlighted the potential to cause injury the tackle holds despite the medical report clearing Blakey of a head or neck injury.
4:20: Butler denied using excessive force and believes he gave Blakey enough time to brace himself for the surface in the latter stages of the tackle.
He also said his selection status would be at risk if he opted not to tackle Blakey
Butler confirmed he was aware of the AFL's recent examples of the boundaries surrounding dangerous tackles, with the league providing clubs with 12 examples last week.
— AFL (@AFL) June 8, 2023