Punishment or pat?

ADELAIDE Plains Football League (APFL) held its first tribunal hearing for the 2020 season last Wednesday night, with Virginia’s Dylan Jessen, pictured right, suspended for six games, reduced to five after pleading guilty to striking Hamley Bridge’s Leon Raether.

Hamley Bridge provided video evidence of the incident, along with a short statement from Leon, after which the tribunal made its finding.

Leon suffered a fractured jaw and broken tooth, and is uncertain if he will play again this season.
He has a cross bar and wires holding his bottom jaw together for the next four to six weeks, depending on how the injury heals.

Leon, 21, is an apprentice gyprocker in Adelaide, but is off work until the doctor has given him the all-clear.

“I was looking forward to playing this year, as I’d missed the second half of last season due to glandular fever,” Leon said.

“I’m disappointed with the tribunal outcome as five weeks is not a deterrent.

“Personally I don’t think it’s a punishment for striking me or anyone else – it appears the outcome of the strike has determined the penalty – surely the penalty should be based on the action and what could have happened.”

It appears Leon’s concern about the outcome of the strike, any strike, is what determines the penalty.

According to the Procedures Manual on the APFL website, prescribed penalties are ‘classified and graded’, ranked under ‘intentional’ or ‘careless’, taking into account the severity of impact and where in the body you ‘get hit.’

According to this website, intentional severe high contact has a ‘base sanction of five-plus matches (tribunal) with N/A guilty plea.’

Mr Jessen received a six game ban, reduced to five with an early guilty plea.

“My injury could have been much worse – it could have been fatal – imagine if it was a smaller person than me or if they’d been hit a bit higher – people have died from a king hit.”

The video was played at the tribunal, and Leon said while he doesn’t remember the actual strike, it was ‘a very damning video’.

“Playing a bigger-bodied team is intimidating anyway, but it’s off-putting if someone only gets five weeks off for a king hit,” he said.

Hamley Bridge president, Bradley Lowe, was also disappointed with the outcome.

“We want to promote the game of football and what is acceptable and not-acceptable in the game,” Bradley said.

“Based on the club’s community feedback, the feeling is five weeks is unacceptable for that charge.

“We need to encourage people to play footy, and don’t want to bring the game into disrepute.”

As per SANFL stipulations, any appeals must be lodged with the SANFL within seven days of the tribunal result.