Reece Conca and his off the ball hit has been the talk of the town in recent days. Once upon a time, if you were to break the rules, and be handed down a suspension in the NAB Cup, you would serve it in the Home and Away Season, and be eligible to play the remainder of the NAB Cup. However, in 2012, the AFL have changed a long standing system, by saying that Conca may serve his three week ban in the pre-season competition, and be right to play, come round one.

The problem with this though, is that Round Four of the NAB Cup, if you are not in the Grand Final, is just a simple NAB Challenge match. So therefore, should it count as a ‘legitimate’ match in which he should be suspended? Not only that, should the suspension be served in the NAB Cup to start with?

To be perfectly honest with you, I think that this new system encourages a bit more recklesness in the game. Why? Because a player could basically just take out someone that they don’t like, or who is one of the league’s elite players, and not miss any home and away matches. I’m not saying that players would do that, but there is some truth to it.

In some ways it is good that players will not miss any of the season proper, but then again, should we really be rewarding those players who break the rules, potentially injure other players, and who may tarnish the name of our great game?

This wouldn’t have been such an issue, had the suspension been one week, or perhaps even two weeks. It’s all centred around the third week, and the fact that it is practically a practice match.

Too look at it critically, we need to assess the actual incident, and past misdemeanours. The problem that I have with the decision, is that if they’re going to call it rough conduct, then the offense by name and nature, should be no more than two weeks. However, if they stayed with the initial assessment of striking, then any length of time would be applicable. Were the incident not 50 or so metres behind the play, then realistically, it would have simply been a fair bump. If I were the Richmond faithful however, I would have some things to say about the inconsistencty of those making the decisions.

My reference point is Chris Judd on Matthew Pavlich in 2010. Judd through back an elbow, cracking Pavlich’s cheek, and having the Freo captain requiring numerous stitches. But what did the tribunal say? That it was unintentional, and an accident. Not only have they done that in recent years, but they have also had people face the tribunal on cases of attempting to trip, attempting to strike, and attempting to engage in rough play. To be honest, I’m rather perplexed with the almost erratic, totally inconsistent, and alarmingly random processes and decision that the tribunal tend to make.

And due to these inconsistencies, I feel that Conca is a little unlucky with the severity of his punishment, but then that he is lucky to not be missing any of the home and away season because of his indescretion.

By: Jimmy Day