Western Bulldogs midfielder Britney Gutknecht is facing a ban of at least three matches after being sent straight to the AFLW Tribunal for her crunching tackle on Sydney’s Paige Sheppard.
Gutknecht ran at full pace and tackled an unaware Sheppard from behind in an incident that concussed the Swans midfielder, who was left writhing in pain before being helped from the field.
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As a result of the outcome, the incident was assessed as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact.
Gutknecht, who earned a free kick for the tackle at the time, will now face the tribunal to find out her fate but the football world has already begun debating the decision.
“It is a fair tackle, I think. I think that is completely momentum of the game, I don’t see any dirtiness in that,” Collingwood player Ruby Schleicher said in commentary.
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Gutknecht flattened Sheppard with the tackle from behind. Credit: 7Sport
West Coast premiership player Will Schofield responded to the news that Gutknecht had been cited with one simple word: “Why?”
Former Carlton AFLW coach Daniel Harford suggested the ruling was an attempt to protect women’s players from tough tackles.
“Tackled above waist and below shoulders. No sling or double motion,” Harford wrote.
“Sheppard lands on her back. ‘Girls’ play hard too.
“Not for the first time on social media… it’s time for #FreeBritney.”
Responding to a fan who said the tackle is dangerous in the part-time AFLW compared to the full-time men’s competition, Harford said: “Unless there are ‘flags’ on the side of their shorts, a legal tackle is a legal tackle.”
He went on to suggest the rules must be changed if the AFL is that desperate to rid itself of injury and concussion.
“Don’t adjudicate the current rules incorrectly,” Harford added.
Sheppard was left writhing in pain, and later diagnosed with concussion. Credit: 7Sport
Gutknecht’s tribunal hearing comes a week after Adelaide’s Najwa Allen received a three-match ban – the longest in AFLW history – at the tribunal for an off-the-ball bump.
Meanwhile, Gold Coast’s Lucy Single was slapped with a one-match ban for a rough conduct offence on Port Adelaide’s Maria Moloney.
Giants forward Brodee Mowbray was also suspended for one match for a rough conduct charge on Carlton’s Gab Pound.
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