Craig’s three-week ban stays

Sandhurst's Pascale Craig will be back for the Dragons' round 18 clash with Gisborne.
Sandhurst's Pascale Craig will be back for the Dragons' round 18 clash with Gisborne.

The AFL Victoria appeals board has backed the BFNL tribunal’s decision to hand Sandhurst’s Pascale Craig a three-week suspension.

Craig was suspended for three weeks after pleading guilty to making careless contact with central umpire Matthew Bourke in the Sandhurst and Eaglehawk clash on July 29.

The BFNL board appealed the penalty because it thought the ban wasn’t severe enough, but that appeal was dismissed on Tuesday night by the AFL Victoria appeals board.

Appeals board chairman Eddie Power said the fact Craig had been reported for a careless act, rather than an intentional action left the three-man panel with no other option than to stick with the three-match penalty.

“We see that the BFNL tribunal, briefed with the same evidence we’ve seen tonight, imposed a three-match suspension on player Craig,’’ Power said.

“We find that the penalty is appropriate in these circumstances and we don’t make any change to the tribunal decision of three premiership matches.”

BFNL manager Dennis Bice accepted the appeals board decision and said the BFNL board would now “move on”.

Earlier in the hearing, BFNL and Bendigo Umpires Association advocate Peter Hilson told the appeals board that Craig’s actions deserved a penalty in the four-to-six week bracket.

“The BFNL board sought this appeal because the penalty sanctioned in this case was inappropriate to the nature of high level of contact made to the officiating umpire,’’ Hilson said.

“A clear path was not left for the umpire to exit from the ball-up situation which has resulted in the unexpected contact made to the leg of the umpire causing him to fall dangerously backwards… thankfully he was uninjured.

“He (Bourke) reported the player for contact, which in his opinion, which was far greater and higher level of impact than the bumps or heal clips that an umpire may well receive in the normal case of events.”

Craig told the appeals board that his action was accidental and a reaction to being stood on by an opponent.

Sandhurst advocate Peter Watson said the contact made by Craig to Bourke was at a “two out of 10 level”.

“Pascale feels terrible about the potential stigma this carries and is very remorseful,’’ Watson added.

“He wouldn’t in his right mind make deliberate contact with an official.”

The appeal board’s decision to stand by the three-week ban means the premiership player will return for the Dragons’ round 18 clash with Gisborne at the QEO.