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Brennan and Bulldogs likely to appeal suspension on Grand Final eve

From Deane Cummings
March 2018


It seems excessive that Katie Brennan's two-week suspension for rough conduct should affect her ability to play in this weekend's AFLW Grand Final between the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs.

We offer no defense of Brennan and we are not Bulldogs supporters. We have no opinion whether her crime was worthy of a two-week sus-pension, or should be three or even more.

What we do object to is an infraction committed in the course of home-and-away play being enforced for finals play. Head to heading betting on the game has Western Bulldogs favourite at $1.70 and Brisbane at $2.17 - Bookmaker Bonus Bets.

The punishment should equal the crime. An eye for an eye and all that.

In the AFL, however, our view is not standard operating procedure and it is possible for a player to cop a ban in the pre-season that impacts his or her ability to play when premiership points are on the line.

There was the entirely laughable incident involving Port Adelaide player Robbie Gray's brush of the Eagle's Jeremy McGovern in JLT Community Series action that will force Gray to miss Round 1 when the Power plays the Fremantle Dockers. We do not think that McGovern was guilty of staging, but the contact was negligible.

The Bulldogs' legal team is mounting a defense to try to restore Brennan's eligibility for the Grand Final. An appeal seems imminent. Her lawyer Sam Norton has four possible grounds he can pursue to get the ban overturned.

A. That the decision to suspend her was an error of law.

B. That it is a manifestly excessive sanction.

C. That it is a manifestly excessive classification.

D. That the decision was so unreasonable that no tribunal acting reasonably could have come to the decision it did.

Would that there could be an "E," All of the Above.

Brennan was banned for what the tribunal described as rough conduct classification of high, low impact and careless conduct. Her lawyer does not intend to mount an objection to the charge. His defense seems to rest on the assertion that an incident graded as low impact but still rep-resent excessive force is not possible.

Brennan herself is obviously deeply distressed at the possibility of missing out on playing finals over something that happened during premier points play. Speaking to the media outside the tribunal gathering, Brennan said, "I'm gutted with the decision but I'll support the club in whatever they choose to do going forward," Brennan said. "We've proved that the girls don't need myself out on the field to win games and I'll back them 100 per cent and also be able to play a really important role on gameday."

Once upon a time, two kids got together on a pitch and figured things out for themselves. Rules were established, often thought up on the fly, and rules were changed when those rules proved unduly restrictive on the main point of the game: having fun.

Now, it seems that not a single step can be taken without an attorney present to argue the interpretation of any and all regulations, followed by arguing in front of courts and tribunals. This ludicrous situation is exacerbated by what seemed like a good idea at the time, but has now turned out to be the bane of all professional games: incessant video re-view of every close call in every game played.



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