AFL Debate Club: De Goey bump the 'perfect' incident for a red card in footy?

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Welcome to ESPN's AFL Debate Club, the column in which our writers and contributors will take one prompt from the week and put their opinion on the record. The kicker? No opinion is immune from criticism!

This week, Rohan Connolly and Jake Michaels debate whether the Jordan De Goey bump on Elijah Hewett is the type of incident that could be dissuaded with the implementation of a red card in the AFL.

Jordan De Goey's bump on Elijah Hewett is the perfect example of when a 'red card' could work in the AFL

Rohan Connolly: Sorry guys, not in my view. I appreciate the extent to which standards have shifted, thus De Goey's late bump, which once would have barely attracted scrutiny, has now been universally condemned as unacceptable.

But it IS still, however late on Eagle Elijah Hewett, fundamentally a football action gone wrong. And in my view, a send-off is too great a penalty to be paid for what was a misjudgement more than a malicious act.

You want a send-off rule? Then surely the crime has to be something manifestly beyond not just the rules but the spirit of the game, something as hideous as Barry Hall's KO of Brent Staker back in 2008.

I concede I'm old-school about Australian football and send-offs, but particularly these days, I just don't think there's enough incidents in the game where a player is unfairly taken out of a contest via an illegal blow from which the striking player's team benefits to warrant such a radical change to our on-field policing policies.

The potential for errors still worries me, too. The old VFA has a couple of famous incidents from grand finals in the days a send-off rule existed where players carded were subsequently found "not guilty" at the tribunal.

That theoretically isn't as big a problem now in this age of "score reviews" and assistants monitoring real time footage. Yet, when it comes to degrees of lateness with a football action like De Goey's, these are often fine lines that require careful scrutiny, not a snap judgement made on the basis of just one or two hasty replays.

A video umpire going too early from "The Arc" puts procedural fairness at risk. And taking too long to consider the different angles and possible speeds of footage delays the game to extreme levels.

Simply, the infrequency these days even of incidents like De Goey's is pretty good evidence the game has managed to clean itself up.

The odd rogue collision which still occurs isn't enough to make a very fundamental change to the game's umpiring. It just isn't required.

Jake Michaels: Let me preface my thoughts by making it clear this is in no way an overreaction to the incident on the weekend, rather I've long held the view red cards should be utilised in the AFL, much like we see in many other sports.

In fact, Aussie Rules might be the only contact sport in the world where a player cannot be sent off, disqualified, sin-binned or thrown out of a contest, no matter how heinous of an offence they commit. Just stop and think about that for a moment.

Now I'm not saying De Goey's late bump on Hewett was the worst action I've ever seen on a football field -- when it comes to De Goey's sanction, I probably fall somewhere between the opinions of Dom Sheed and the legion of ex-players looking to exonerate him -- but is it worthy of a send off? Absolutely.

Why should the Eagles suffer the double punishment of losing Hewett to concussion in the first term and having to play a man down for three and a half quarters while the Magpies were still able to enjoy a full game of production from De Goey. The Demons literally stand to gain more than the Eagles, given they play Collingwood next week on King's Birthday and De Goey will be sitting on the sidelines. It's just not right.

I'd argue anything which would eventually be sent directly to the AFL Tribunal -- and therefore attract at least a three-week suspension -- should be met with a red card and disqualification from the game. Think Andrew Gaff punching Andrew Brayshaw in the jaw in 2018, Jeremy Cameron striking Harris Andrews in the same year and Tom Stewart's late bump on Dion Prestia last season. In my mind, all of these incidents are worthy of a red card.

Of course, it would require the four field umpires convening and making the assessment as a unit. But that shouldn't take more than a minute or so. I've got no issue with them stopping the game to make such a call.