AN investigation which cleared East Warrnambool midfielder Robbie Lowe of unbecoming conduct has triggered a fresh debate on the place of the hip-and-shoulder bump in the game.
The Warrnambool and District Football Netball League yesterday revealed a probe by Victorian Country Football League investigations officer Roy Baker concluded Lowe had no case to answer after an incident in a match against Nirranda on April 28.
The investigation was initiated by Nirranda after its rover Brendan Foster was knocked out in the final term of the round four game against the Bombers at Nirranda.
East Warrnambool yesterday welcomed the finding but Nirranda intends discussing what, if any, further action it can take. At the very least, it wants its $420 kept by the league for the cost of the investigation refunded.
Blues president and Brendan’s father Anthony Foster described the no-case-to-answer decision as “very disappointing”.
“Obviously he’s been knocked out cold.” he said.
“The AFL is always saying the head is sacrosanct. Buddy Franklin bumped a bloke last year and everything was tucked in but he was suspended.
“I can’t get my head around how they’ve come to the conclusion (in this case).”
Foster, who wasn’t at the game, said his son had missed two weeks because of concussion and headaches.
He said he had nothing against East Warrnambool or Lowe but could not understand if a player suffered head injuries from a bump, why he wasn’t given a free kick or the matter taken to the tribunal.
“Whether it was deliberate or accidental is immaterial.
“The head is sacrosanct.
“Players are going to get the wrong message they can run through anyone now. I wonder what mothers make of that.” East Warrnambool president Richard Jaynes said the Bombers wanted to move on.
“We are obviously relieved,” Jaynes said.
“We believe there was nothing malicious in what Robbie did,” Jaynes said.
“It was unfortunate, in the act of the game and the young fellow came off second best.
“We are happy with the outcome and believe it is the right verdict and now we want to get our first win this weekend.”
Lowe told the investigation he had delivered a fair bump on Foster in his efforts to win possession of the ball.
According to Baker’s investigation report, submitted to the league and circulated to clubs, central umpire Tony Phillips had given evidence that Lowe had run towards Foster and delivered a hip and shoulder.
“He described it as a clean, heavy bump,” Baker’s interview with Phillips revealed.
“Lowe had his elbow tucked in and the ball was within five metres of the point of impact. Phillips states he had a clear vision and even on reflection considers the incident as a perfect bump.”
Baker’s report, which detailed evidence from five Nirranda witnesses, including Foster, and four East witnesses, including Lowe, said the versions of the incident varied significantly.
“The fact that Foster was knocked unconscious and suffered substantial impact, stress and injury as a result of this incident is not denied by any party interviewed in this investigation,” Baker concluded.
“From the evidence presented by all witnesses, it is clear that Foster received a substantial bump by Lowe. This bump may or may not have caused the injury to his temple area but in my opinion is not sufficient evidence of a high tackle.
“Conflicting evidence provided by witnesses and the eyewitness recollection provided by the field umpire in control on the day leads me to believe there is insufficient evidence required for a successful prosecution in this case.”