Roos fight Rigby ban after three-match suspension staggers East Point

EAST Point president Maurice O’Keefe says he is staggered at the tribunal’s decision to suspend Liam Rigby for three weeks over a tackle and that his club never hesitated to pay big dollars to fight the suspension.

Out: East Point’s Liam Rigby has been suspended for three matches.
PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Out: East Point’s Liam Rigby has been suspended for three matches. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

East Point will appeal the decision handed down by the AFL Goldfields Independent Tribunal on Tuesday night, that saw the Roos’ big man suspended for three matches.

However, the appeal will not be heard until next week, meaning Rigby will be unable to play on Saturday.

Rigby was found guilty of a sling tackle on Redan’s Leigh Ryall after being reported by the goal umpire when Ryall was left unconscious from hitting his head on the turf in the middle of City Oval.

Ryall had the ball at the time of the tackle and a free kick was not paid.

East Point has forked out the mandatory $5500 AFL Victoria fee to appeal the decision, half of which it will get back if the appeal is upheld.

O’Keefe said he was shocked when the tribunal handed down the decision, claiming Ryall’s injury was a pure accident and a part of playing football.

“I’m totally at a loss with it,” O’Keefe said.

“I find it all fairly staggering. There was absolutely no malice in it at all.”

The match between Redan and East Point was called off early in the final quarter when Ryall was knocked out.

With trainers not wanting to move him, both clubs agreed to call it off early until paramedics arrive.

O’Keefe said the incident set a dangerous precedent, by inferring there always had to be a guilty party when an injury occurred.

“It puts everybody playing footy in a very unsure position. I thought the bump was almost dead but not the tackle,” he said.

“We’re very disappointed with the result of the tribunal and we’re under the impression he won’t be able to play this week.”

BFL operations manager Aaron Nunn said players were not free to play while the appeal process played out, unless there were “extenuating” circumstances.

However, the decision lies with AFL Victoria.

It is expected Rigby will front the appeals board on Wednesday, meaning he will at least miss Saturday’s clash again Melton South.

Meanwhile, Bacchus Marsh has been dealt a massive blow before its crucial Ballarat Football League game against Redan, with coach Cam Richardson suspended for one match.

The tribunal found Richardson guilty on Wednesday night of making head-high contact on Melton South youngster Daniel Hillier in the third quarter on Saturday, after the Cobras’ coach had his number taken after the front-on bump.

He will miss one week of football and will be forced to coach on from the sidelines, while Hillier has been named to play.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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