“Weak” ban sends poor mes­sage to young foot­ballers

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Sport - By JEREMY WIL­SON

HOW can the Ovens and Mur­ray tri­bunal jus­tify ef­fec­tively hand­ing a player a one-match penalty for in­ten­tion­ally punch­ing an op­po­nent in the head?

Al­bury’s Jessy Wil­son was one of three play­ers sus­pended by the tri­bunal on Wed­nes­day night af­ter ten­sions flared on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in the thrilling grand fi­nal against Wan­garatta last month.

Mag­pie Dy­lan Van Berlo was banned for two weeks for rough con­duct against Al­bury’s Matt Walker while Tiger Rhys King was handed four weeks for el­bow­ing Wan­garatta’s Mark An­der­son to the head.

On face value, it ap­pears both of those bans were ap­pro­pri­ate, how­ever, the tri­bunal got it clearly wrong when it came to Wil­son’s penalty.

Be­fore the hear­ing, the strik­ing charge was up­graded from care­less to in­ten­tional af­ter um­pire Ja­son Raine watched the footage of the in­ci­dent.

Wil­son pleaded guilty and was handed a two-match ban by the tri­bunal with one sus­pended.

That means Wil­son in­ten­tion­ally punched Mag­pie Zack Leitch to the head but will only miss one week.

No, Leitch wasn’t in­jured in the con­test and yes, Wan­garatta ben­e­fited from Wil­son spend­ing 15 min­utes on the side­lines.

But in to­day’s world where foot­ballers are looked up to, Wil­son’s punch to the jaw of Leitch was a bad look for the game and this sends a bad mes­sage to young play­ers in the North East.

The AFL has come down hard on off the ball hits in re­cent times with An­drew Gaff, Thomas Bugg and Bachar Houli all handed lengthy bans for ugly strik­ing in­ci­dents.

And while this in­ci­dent wasn’t as ugly as those three, the tri­bunal has ef­fec­tively told play­ers that in­ten­tional strikes to an op­po­nent’s jaw will see you get lit­tle more than a slap on the wrist.

Ir­re­spec­tive of Wil­son’s his­tory, the O&M tri­bunal had the per­fect chance to make a state­ment but failed mis­er­ably.

The charge was in­ten­tion­ally strik­ing and while Wil­son will have to tread care­fully given he has a week’s sus­pen­sion hang­ing over his head, a ban of two weeks, maybe three would have been more ap­pro­pri­ate.

PHOTO: Marc Bongers

IN­TEN­TIONAL: Al­bury’s Jessy Wil­son was handed just a one-week ban for this strike on Mag­pie Zack Leitch.

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