The AFL Tribunal had “held the line” on its high contact rule in suspending Jack Viney for breaking the jaw of Adelaide's Tom Lynch, Dockers coach Ross Lyon said this morning.
Lyon said he made no judgment on whether the rule was right or wrong, and said players may have to step out of the way of contact as they adjusted to the rule. But while the rule was in place, players who chose to bump when other options were available to them were going to be in trouble.
“The observation is that the tribunal held the line that has been held for along time. If you have a viable alternative, and the debate is whether it was viable, but clearly it was deemed that he had a viable alternative to bump, then you are responsible. I am not saying the rule is right or wrong. I am saying what it is,” he said.
“There may be times, if you are open where you are going to have to take evasive action really aren’t you,” he said. “But you have got to look at the opportunity cost. The other side of the equation, injuries, head injuries and exposure to the AFL. There are overseas precedents being set.”
Lyon said he understood the reasons for the tightening of the head high contact rule, which also saw Fremantle star Nathan Fyfe suspended for an accidental head clash earlier in the season.
“You can see the genesis of the rule change. There is an identification of head injuries and safety in the game so we are all across that," he said.
"There is a lot of rhetoric and a lot of grandstanding. At the end of the day it is what it is. There is an appeal process which is in place which is critical for sport justice to be seen to be had. Let it go through the appeals process and see what comes.
“They have held the line on the rule. We all understand the reasons why. I am not saying it is right or wrong. If you have got a viable alternative and it is interpreted that you have and you bump, you are going to be in trouble.”
He declined to buy into the growing groundswell from players who believed that the Viney decision was too harsh.
“They are entitled to their opinion. I don’t need to support it or break it down. I just think the rule is the rule if you put it that way and while the rule is like that you are going to get the same outcome. It is pretty simple here," Lyon said.
He said his players understood the perils of bumping.
“All I say them is if the ball is your object I haven’t seen anyone suspended yet,” he said.
“At some point you might have to take evasive action if you feel that vulnerable. Clearly if you feel that vulnerable currently on where it sits you may need to take evasive action and step out of the way.”