BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07: Patrick Cripps of the Blues leaves the ground with a ripped jumper during the 2022 AFL Round 21 match between the Brisbane Lions and the Carlton Blues at The Gabba on August 7, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Welcome to the live blog of Patrick Cripps' Appeals Board hearing on Thursday night, August 11.

Cripps was handed a two-game suspension by the Match Review Officer on Monday, with the Blues opting to challenge the charge in the hope their captain was cleared and free to play the final two matches of the home and away season.

The rough conduct charge came following an incident that saw Cripps collide with Lion Callum Ah Chee in Sunday's match at the Gabba, with Ah Chee left concussed after the aerial contest.

At the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night, Cripps failed in his challenge to overturn the ban, with the jury finding that it was unreasonable for Cripps to contest the ball as he did.

With the Blues captain set to miss his side's final matches against Melbourne and Collingwood amid their finals fight, Carlton have opted to challenge the AFL Tribunal's verdict at the league's appeals board.

Carlton and Cripps may appeal the decision of the Tribunal for one or more of the following grounds:

  • An error of law has occurred;
  • The decision of the Tribunal is so unreasonable that no Tribunal acting reasonably could have come to that decision having regard to the evidence before it;
  • The classification of the offence by the Tribunal was manifestly excessive or inadequate; or
  • The sanction imposed by the Tribunal was manifestly excessive or inadequate.

LIVE BLOG:

VERDICT!

After over 4 hours, the jury came to their decision, with Patrick Cripps having his two-game successfully overturned in his challenge.

He will be able to face Melbourne this weekend.

Full statement from chair Murray Kellam:

"The AFL tribunal last Tuesday night concluded that the appellant had engaged in rough conduct contrary to the regulations.

"The regulation sets out the charge of rough conduct in the context of bumping.

"It states that a player will be guilty of rough conduct where in the bumping [of] an opponent whether reasonably or unreasonably the player causes forceful contact to be made with any part of his body, an opponent's head or neck.

"This intentional such conduct will be deemed to be careless unless this the player was contesting the ball and it was reasonable for the player to contest the ball in that way, or the forceful contact to the head or neck was caused by circumstances outside the control of the player which could not reasonably be foreseen.

"As it's clear the purpose of the rule echoes the overarching law. Speaking to reduce risk as far as practicable.

"The tribunal found and set out in it's reasons that both players, that is Mr. Cripps and Mr. Ah Chee, had eyes for the ball and that both players had contested the ball.

"The Tribunal nevertheless found that the acts by Mr. Cripps fell within the phrase 'in the bumping of an opponent'.

"Unable to conclude that the evidence before the tribunal is sufficient to form this view. Certainly the reasons given by the tribunal do not explain what evidence was relied upon for that view.

"In support of its conclusion, the Tribunal stated that Mr. Cripps turned his body into 'classic thumping position when seeking to take possession'.

"Suggestion or these words were never put to Mr. Cripps in cross-examination or were counselled to Mr. Cripps given the opportunity to make submissions in respect to such a description of Mr Cripps' behaviour.

"The first time the phrase was used was in the reasoning cited by the Tribunal.

"Likewise, the Tribunal made a finding that with both feet off the ground. Mr. Cripps bumped Mr. Ah Chee at high speed, that he leapt into the contest.

"His evidence was that at all times he had his eye on the ball and that his intention was to take possession of the ball in an aerial contest and that he did not see Mr. Ah Chee also launch for the ball.

"In cross examination it was never put to Mr. Cripps that he 'bumped', nor was it put to him that his action was not prudent, but an unreasonable speed.

"Brief reasons provided by the Tribunal do not amplify why Mr. Cripps' evidence was apparently disregarded. Reasons failed to explain the basis upon which it was concluded by the Tribunal that he turned his body into a classic bumping position.

"We are unable to conclude on the basis of these videos or the vision in those videos that Mr. Cripps did turn his body into a classic bumping position.

"To our minds, the video confirms the statement expressed in the ruling that both players had eyes for the ball , and that both contested the ball.

"Indeed, our conclusion was that the video did not reveal a bump, neither it set out a contest for the ball which resulted in a collision.

"Such circumstances, and take into account that such findings that were made by the Tribunal, were not put to Mr. Cripps.

"We consider that the finding was unreasonable and did not comply with the requirements of procedural fairness.

"The case that in our view warranted directions to the jury members no directions were given.

"There were clear difficulties in this case, arising from the evidence and from the submissions made, and in one aspect, from questions prompted from the Chair.

"Consider that there is weight in the submission that is asked on behalf of Mr. Cripps that those matters required to be the subject of appropriate directions to the jury so as to record Mr. Cripps procedural fairness

"Furthermore, those directions, had they been given would assist this board in understanding the basis upon which the conclusions which were reached by the tribunal.

"Consider that the failure to accord procedural fairness referred to above announced an error of law and in respect of rounds 20.2a, we found round made out.

"Further, because we are unable to identify the evidentiary basis of the finding that the actions of Mr. Cripps were in the bumping of an opponent, we conclude that the findings of the jury was under unreasonable in the terms of regulation 20.2b.

"They are our findings. Thank you to my fellow board members and thank you for the AFL staff for putting this together in quite difficult circumstances."

Opening submission

Cripps' counsel, Cristopher Townshend, has opened the proceedings and is reflecting on the Tribunal's interpretation of what they viewed as a 'bump an opponent', stating the Tribunal went away from the "natural and correct interpretation".

Townshend agreed in the findings from Tuesday night that both players had contested for the ball.

Townshend has also brought up other aspects of the Tribunal's theories that have raised concern for "the conduct of the proceeding itself".

"I should indicate there are other aspects of this that cause us real concern around the process," Townshend said. 

"There was a denial of natural justice."

Townshend is now questioning the standard in, or lack of, directions from the AFL Tribunal's hearing from Tuesday night from chairperson Jeff Gleeson to the jury prior to their deliberation.

"In our submissions, the consideration of this case was impoverished by the absence of such a direction."

Following on from Cripps on Tuesday night, Townshend has raised the term "football act" in regards to bumping an opponent while contesting for the ball.

He has also raised that the chairperson had "described" the collision "in different terms", with the "interpretation being placed on these words" from the chairperson questionable, having not raised the word 'bump'.

"This is where the tribunal goes on a bit of a frolic in the journey," Townshend said. 

"The first thing to say is that there is nothing in the rule that on its face value invites you to consider this choice being a multiple choice type action.

"Because in the absence of even Mr Cripps being asked if he bumped his opponent or wanted to bump his opponent...that word bump not even arising."

Townshend is now quoting Cripps from a transcript from Tuesday night, when Cripps was explaining his thoughts as he approached the contest.

Townshend has also raised the lack of the term "bump" from both Cripps and AFL Counsel Nicholas Pane from Tuesday's transcript, prior to Gleeson's use of the word following their submissions.

Townshend has now been delivering his submission for one hour, however is reaching a conclusion.

"My time is starting to be a little long," he conceded.

Having reached the point of the transcript where the jury retired, Townshend has again shed light on the fact the chairperson did not deliver directions to the jury prior to their deliberations.

The error is sure to aid Cripps' case, but may not be enough to constitute that "An error of law has occurred."

Townshend has concluded that Cripps' description of why he turned his body (protecting the drop zone) explained his actions, as opposed to the chair's finding he was positioned in a "classic bump" position.

Townshend has stated the appeal is over no "technicality", but comes after the process was 'undermined'.

He is now raising the game's policy framework.

"One we've drawn attention to also is to prevent injuries to play as participating in a match. So far as this objective can be reasonably achieved, in circumstances where Australian Football is a body contact sport, and it is the very introduction to the very laws of the game.

"A player who makes the football their sole objective shall be provided every opportunity to do so."

Now reflecting on lines from the league's guidelines...

"The purpose of the rule dealing with high bumps is to reduce. As far as practicable."

In his conclusion, Townshend has again highlighted the confusion around the terminology of 'bumping an opponent', as well as the chair's failure to properly deliver directions to the jury.

"We say for the foregoing reasons that the decision is infected with error. And so unreasonable rule that requires reverse."

After bordering on two hours of his submission, Townshend has concluded his summation.

AFL counsel Nicholas Pane's chance to give his submission  

Pane has immediately turned to Cripps' description around preparing to position himself for the 'drop zone', stating Cripps' actions can be more than just setting his sights on the ball, including a bumping action.

"A player in the bumping of an opponent, can simultaneously contest for the ball."  - Pane reads from the AFL's guidelines.

Further...

"Reading the reasons of the Tribunal, it's quite clear that they did not accept the evidence of player Cripps over video footage, and they were satisfied that they could make up their mind based on the video footage," Pane said. 

"Alternatively, they accepted the evidence of player Cripps that he had his eye on the ball and that he was contesting the ball. But they were of the view that his action in turning his body was such that it constituted an action of a bumping nature, sufficient to constitute the charge of rough conduct."

Deliberating

Both Townshend and Pane have given rebuttal's echoing their submission from earlier in the hearing.

Chairperson Murray Kellam has given back-and-forth with both representatives, with the chair and jury adjourning.

Verdict incoming (soon we hope)...

Still deliberating, thanks for holding on!

Then jury have returned!