The VFL has stepped in after Richmond youngster Tyler Sonsie received a “manifestly” watered-down ban for a strike on an opponent at their own tribunal.
It was widely thought Sonsie would cop a five-match suspension, and the AFL world erupted after the tribunal only handed him a three-game penalty.
With his side leading North Melbourne by 12 points late in the contest, Sonsie inexplicably lashed out at opponent Tom Cappellari with a left-handed strike as you can see in the video above.
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He collected Cappellari flush on the jaw with the Kangaroo dropping to the ground in pain.
Cappellari was eventually able to get to his feet and take his kick, but the incident was nonetheless graded severe impact with a potential ban of five or more matches.
Sonsie, though, received only a three-match suspension after the tribunal downgraded the ruling to high impact.
Tyler Sonsie’s ban was considered manifestly inadequate by the VFL. Credit: Channel 7
The VFL has now called that sanction “manifestly inadequate”.
It said it was appealing the three-game suspension on the grounds that (either) “the decision involved an error of law that had a material impact on the Tribunal’s decision” or the decision “was so unreasonable that no Controlling Body or Tribunal acting reasonably could have come to that decision” after hearing the evidence.
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The appeal will be heard on Monday night, August 28.
The original tribunal decision was met with ferocious backlash by experts and fans.
Football commentator Daniel Garb said: “It’s a pretty long batting order but only three weeks for this could be the worst decision ever. 6-8 (weeks) minimum.”
As fans branded Sonsie ‘very lucky’ and the tribunal ‘very weak’, veteran journalists Gerard Whateley and Mark Robinson took time out of their AFL finals coverage to address the VFL decision.
“It’s a pretty blatant strike, I would say it’s as poor as anything we’ve seen this season,” Whateley began on AFL 360.
“That is woefully inadequate.”
Robinson said it was “rubbish”.
“(Hawthorn captain) James Sicily got three weeks for a bum tackle in an act of play,” he said.
“Whether you agree with (tackle crackdowns) or not, we’re starting to get our heads around it.
“That (Sonsie’s strike) is a blatant act of violence on the football field.”
Tyler Sonsie was pushing for an AFL recall. Credit: Josh Chadwick/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images
The Tigers did qualify for the new-look VFL finals wildcard round, which start this week, but the three-game ban (or possibly more) will see the 20-year-old miss the start of next year’s AFL season.
Sonsie was pushing for a recall to the senior side after a team-high 23 disposals and a goal in the victory over North Melbourne.
He was taken with pick No.28 in the 2021 draft and has played 10 senior games in his two years in the AFL.
– With Glenn Valencich
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