While several past players might wonder why they didn’t get a similar get out of jail free card when
faced with the crushing fate of being suspended from playing in the
Grand Final –
commonsense has won the day with Sydney Swans captain Barry Hall free to play on Saturday. Last night’s AFL
tribunal decision was the right one in many ways and maybe the full story
has yet to be told as to whether the league itself played any part in
“assisting” the tribunal’s decision.

Such has been the
inconsistency on adjudicating Hall’s kind of “strike” during the 2005 season, the
league can only breathe a huge sight of relief at the outcome, which threatened
to spark a media meltdown if Hall’s tribunal fate had been otherwise. In the end judicial pragmatism and a
substantial dose of commonsense did indeed prevail.

What can’t be
ignored – as my Crikey NRL colleague Jeff Wall has consistently noted throughout
the season – is that the AFL has adapted a deeply flawed judiciary process from the NRL and Hall was only its latest victim.
The AFL will review the success or otherwise of
this system and no one pretends there aren’t going to be reforms after AFL
Football Operations Manager Adrian Anderson, among others, reports back on his
handy work. Such has been the
increasingly shrill media bollocking, the league has to do
more than just tinker with the current system.

And while the Hall
reprieve can hardly be used as evidence that the current system works, it has
avoided an almighty firestorm that would have followed if the
tribunal hadn’t gone his way and now at least the Swans should be excuse free
if they do the unthinkable for many of us and lose. Go the Swans!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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