MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Josh Gibson of the Hawks and Tom Ruggles of the Cats recover after a collision during the 2017 AFL round 04 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 17, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Kevin Bartlett slams MRP decision to clear Josh Gibson over Ruggles hit

Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett has blasted the Match Review Panel, as the system once again comes under fire.

Often a point of debate, the MRP suspended three players from round four, Conor McKenna (one game), Sam Menegola (one game) and James Parsons (two games).

But it was Hawthorn defender Josh Gibson’s bump which left Geelong’s Tom Ruggles concussed and dazed for several minutes, that left the SEN radio host fuming.

Gibson bumped Ruggles as Isaac Smith played on after taking a mark, with the Cats’ defender standing the mark.

While Gibson’s bump was deemed to be fair when MRP results were released yesterday afternoon, as he appeared to collect Ruggles in the chest with his shoulder, it was the clash of heads which left Ruggles in bad shape.

Bartlett said more must be done to protect the player on the mark and labelled Gibson’s bump as “excessive and unnecessary”.

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“That decision by the match review panel to give the thumbs up to the Josh Gibson incident in taking out Geelong’s Tom Ruggles, is a disgrace,” Bartlett said on SEN on Wednesday morning.

“The man standing the mark should not be taken out with force when the umpire calls ‘play-on’.

“Talk about being a sitting duck. Ruggles moves sideways to cover Isaac Smith when play on was called from a stop play.

“Ruggles was then poleaxed by Gibson, and those little birds you see in cartoons are birds flying around his head as he lay prostrate on the ground from the impact.

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“All this for just standing on the mark. Ruggles could take no further part in the game and is in doubt for this week’s game.

“What a joke. The MRP said the block was not excessive for the situation.

“It sure was, for the force was excessive and unnecessary.

“Then the MRP said Gibson didn’t run a long distance to take out Ruggles. Of course not. When you want to block the man on the mark, you stay in close proximity so you can block — supposedly without force and not taking the player out.

“A player standing the mark should not fear for his safety and be blindsided and picked off.

“The MRP sadly let the game down in protecting unsuspecting players.”