AFL news 2022: Eric Hipwood Tribunal, fined for umpire contact, pushing Ryan Gardner, reaction, Mark Robinson

Lions star Eric Hipwood was found guilty of pushing an opponent into an umpire but the punishment has sparked plenty of debate.

Hipwood was sent straight to the Tribunal after he pushed opponent Ryan Gardner, who then collided with umpire Jacob Mollison, during Thursday night’s win over Western Bulldogs.

The Tribunal found Hipwood to have been careless, but said it was not a ‘high’ level of carelessness and imposed a $2500 fine despite the AFL initially arguing for a one-match ban for careless contact or two-match ban for intentional contact.

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Speaking on AFL 360, Robinson said he was staggered at the Tribunal’s decision.

“They found him guilty of carelessly pushing a player into an umpire and they’ve fined him, how can that be?” he asked.

“This is not careless contact that we see with an umpire at the centre-square, this is careless contact of you pushing a person into an umpire. It’s a major difference.

“I know people disagree with me, but I am staggered again.

“They’ve found him guilty of doing something you’re not allowed to do and it’s fallen under ‘oh well, it’s contact with an umpire’, that’s crap.”

Robinson was also surprised that the league believed only a two-match ban was preferred had Hipwood have been found guilty of intentional contact.

“I’m not headhunting Eric Hipwood, but in a year of looking after umpires – and the AFL at times has let umpires down – to have this happening, I’m a bit bewildered. I might be wrong, but I’m bewildered,” he said.

“They couldn’t have found it deliberate because if it is he should be sitting for five or six weeks. If we found out Eric Hipwood deliberately pushed him into the umpire, he’s gone, so I don’t know why we’re asking for two weeks, they should’ve been asking for five weeks.”

At the Tribunal, Hipwood pleaded not guilty, arguing the contact was accidental and primarily caused by his opponent running directly towards the umpire and making prohibited contact with him while sprinting towards goal.

“Viewed from certain angles this incident looks quite troubling, as it appears that Hipwood intended to push Gardner into the umpire,” Tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson explained.

“However, on viewing the footage from behind the goals and hearing the evidence from Hipwood, the circumstances were very different to what they first seemed.

“It is now clear to us that Hipwood was simply running towards goal when his opponent, who was running beside him, deviated and all but stopped in Hipwood‘s path, blocking his run. Hipwood reacted by pushing his opponent, who collided with the umpire.

“However, we find that Hipwood ought to have been aware that an umpire was in close vicinity, as he and his opponent were running at speed, he ought to have been aware that the umpire was vulnerable to a high speed collision. In those circumstances, he breached his duty of care by forcefully pushing his opponent into the umpire.

“He did have an alternative, he need not have pushed his opponent. He did more than brace for contact. As a result, we find Hipwood was careless.

“It was however a reaction and not his action alone that caused the incident and we do not regard the level of carelessness as high. We do not propose to impose a suspension, we have in mind imposing a fine of $2,500.”

Originally published as ‘That’s crap’: Robbo ‘staggered’ by AFL Tribunal’s ump contact verdict

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