AFL boss Gill McLachlan has doubled down on his calls for a review of the AFL Appeals Board and said he was “very agitated” by the controversial decision to overturn a two-week suspension that ultimately allowed Patrick Cripps to win the Brownlow Medal.
The Carlton skipper was banned for a fortnight in August after he was found guilty of a head-high hit on Brisbane’s Callum Ah Chee.
But after a marathon hearing, he was freed on a legal technicality after Carlton’s counsel Chris Townshend QC argued that Cripps had been denied “natural justice” in the initial hearing.
He argued that the original AFL Tribunal jury had not been adequately directed before it reached its finding.
In this week’s AFL Record, McLachlan said he was unhappy with the decision to overturn Cripps’ suspension, which became a major talking point when the Northampton product won the Brownlow Medal by one vote.
“People are aware I was very agitated by that (Appeals Board) decision,” McLachlan told the AFL Record.
“It made no sense to me in any way and it is frustrating to have a legal view about due process or procedural fairness – a complete nonsense – really affect a clear mandate to protect the head.
“We confused our supporters and set ourselves back and that really frustrates me.
“When you can have something that is so important, which is protecting the head, and a clear statement from the MRO and backed up by the Tribunal, and then the player getting off because of a legal technicality and nobody really understanding what the hell happened, I find that challenging.
“So, I have asked the guys to review the system and we will see where that lands.”
The Appeals Board said there was an “error of law” and it could not see how the Tribunal could have arrived at the conclusion Cripps’ actions were “in the bumping of an opponent” because it did not actually receive any indication from Cripps or his legal representatives to suggest it.
Ah Chee was concussed from the incident and missed multiple weeks.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said he was confused about the interpretation of high contact in the wake of the successful Cripps’ appeal.
“I‘m probably a bit confused about how that’s going to be interpreted going forward,” the Lions boss told reporters.
“Good on Carlton for pursuing it and getting their player free, but I thought we were all about protecting the head and Cal Ah Chee had no chance whatsoever to protect his own head last week.
“He was off early in the game last week and he’s not playing this week as a result of it, so we get penalised for that and unfortunately Cal gets injured.”
Cripps jokingly told Triple M after his Brownlow win that he “asked Gil for a replica” medal to give to his legal representative.