Carlton defender Lachie Plowman has been suspended for two weeks for a crunching collision with Hawk Jaeger O'Meara.
O'Meara was going back with the flight of the ball when Plowman made the decision to leave his man and collided with the Hawthorn midfielder.
Carlton have failed to overturn Lachie Plowman's two-match ban for rough conduct on Jaeger O'Meara in this play: pic.twitter.com/OcSshksCWJ
— 7AFL (@7AFL) May 25, 2021
The MRO deemed that Plowman had elected to bump O'Meara rather than attempt to spoil. However, that seems to be factually incorrect.
At the point of contact you can clearly see Plowman has his right fist clenched in an attempt to spoil the football. It's only at the last moment that Plowman braces for impact and protects himself.
Speaking on AFL360 on Tuesday night, Mark Robinson said that the tribunal were right to ban Plowman for his actions.
"When the ball was coming he (Plowman) decided to protect himself and that put O'Meara in danger and he got concussed," he said.
@Robbo_heraldsun has supported the Lachie Plowman decision upheld by the Tribunal 💥
— Zero Hanger (@zerohanger) May 26, 2021
"He (Plowman) had to leave himself open, if he left himself open and tried to spoil he wouldn't be in this situation... He closed up and protected himself... that act has got to be out of the game."
Plowman protecting himself is an act the game requires. If Plowman leaves himself open to the contact he and O'Meara could have both been hurt.
Plowman didn't attempt to hurt O'Meara or run through him but he did opt to protect himself which was all he could do when thinking about the game reasonably.
If Plowman doesn't impact the contest the criticism from the fans and media would have been red-hot. As it would have been if Plowman took O'Meara out with malice and intent to hurt.
So was there no win for Plowman?
Channel Nine reporter Ayrton Wooley said the tribunal jury were asked to not consider the event as a marking contest.
"Plowman case was simple on the surface. But got very heated during 45 mins of haggling over direction to the jury," Wooley said.
Plowman case was simple on the surface. But got very heated during 45 mins of haggling over direction to the jury.
The tribunal chair told the jury they could not consider it a ‘marking contest’.
That has raised eyebrows. Hence Blues considering an appeal.@9NewsMelb
— Ayrton Woolley (@AyrtonWoolley) May 25, 2021
"The tribunal chair told the jury they could not consider it a ‘marking contest’. That has raised eyebrows. Hence Blues considering an appeal."
If the incident isn't looked at as a marking contest, it's almost a criminal act. The fact it happened on a football field, in the play, after a Hawthorn player had kicked the ball without it touching the ground means it was by definition a marking contest.
Saying it can't be looked at as a marking contest immediately corrupts the integrity of any decision made because the jury were no longer judging the incident in its entirety.
Nobody wants to see players get hurt, but there is an understanding that in this great game we all love, accidents happen.
The act we all want out of the game is the one where a player makes a decision to not play the ball but instead play the man/woman.
Gold Coast Sun Jarrod Harbrow did just that against the Blues earlier this year and sent Michael Gibbons off for a concussion test. To which the MRO didn't even mention the issue in his report.
— Carlton Blues Fans (@CarltonFCBlues) May 24, 2021
To a lesser extent, Demon Bayley Fritsch was let off after he struck a tackler to the face in a a bid to avoid them. Yes, that was a football accident but it was reckless.
If you ask Carlton fans I'm not sure they'd expect anything different from Plowman if he had his time again.
Even the on-field umpire at the time had no issue with the contest and commentators at the time applauded the courage of both players.
With the AFL taking a firmer stance on concussions and head injuries this year it was always going to be tough for the MRO in that space. But there needs to be a balance so that players can still play fair.
We will never rid the game of concussions, we want to but we wont. And while there is an argument that we can never go too far in an attempt to protect the head there is a danger we strip our game away of its uniqueness.
Its one of, if not the only, game in the world where you can be under pressure from every angle. It's an element of the sport that makes it so tough.
Plowman didn't attempt to hurt O'Meara, he didn't accelerate and make contact, he didn't elect to bump. What he did was protect himself.
If we are serious about restricting concussions, we should be encouraging and teaching kids to protect themselves in instances like this. Not to leave themselves open and take a risk they may not need to.