Chris Scott and Mark Robinson in fiery debate over Rising Star eligibility after Harley Reid ban

Coaches and pundits have debated the ineligibility of suspended players for the prestigious Rising Star award after favorites Harley Reid and Sam Darcy were suspended in Round 12.

Reid and Darcy were banned for both weeks, removing any chance of winning the prize reserved for the best young players in the competition.

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Reid’s tackle on Saint Darcy Wilson was hotly debated by pundits across Australia, while Darcy’s tackle from behind on Pie’s Brayden Maynard was largely accepted as the correct penalty.

I’m talking about Fox Footy’s AFL 360Geelong coach Chris Scott and Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell joined panelists Gerard Whateley and Mark Robinson to discuss the controversial and widely unknown rule that brings the Scott-Robinson gap.

Mitchell was the first of the two coaches to be asked about their initial thoughts on the ruling, providing both sides of the argument.

“This is an interesting question; I like the fairest tradition, but what was fairest then and what is fairest now are very different things,” Mitchell said.

“I think there’s a difference between intent and carelessness (the tribunal’s classification) so I think if it’s a deliberate act then maybe we shouldn’t be allowed to win, but if it’s more negligent I think maybe there’s something to the AFL’s view.

“I remember that (being the fairest player) because I had a questionable incident in my senior year that I let go; so I was lucky to be in the same position otherwise.”

The panel then turned their attention to Cats coach Scott, who ironically received the Rising Star award in 1994 because colleague Corey McKernan was suspended.

“I think it’s a relic of the past; there’s no point in being part of the criteria now – and I don’t think even once… nobody looks at this event or the Sam Darcy event and thinks they shouldn’t be eligible for individual awards because they’re not fair players’ – I mean, that’s just nonsense ,” Scott explained.

“No, I disagree, I strongly disagree,” Robinson replied

“But you’re allowed to be wrong, that’s okay,” Scott quipped.

The duo then engaged in a stern but fair dialogue, as seen in the transcript below:

Mark Robinson: I don’t think what Sam Darcy did was a good deed at all; he got two weeks, not only – and what stood out for me was that he was almost taken out of the game in this approach; that really aggressive throw down. Because concussion is so prevalent – I think we need to be very aware of the impact of concussion; we have to suppress it very strongly and this might contribute to it.

Chris Scott: But I don’t think it’s a matter of ignorance – if we take your point all the way, saying that players who have played 300 games and been suspended once are not fair players – that’s nonsense.

LORD: No, no, I’m just saying that in this season that we’re playing, if you get suspended for that – I don’t think you should win the Rising Star.

CS: Or the Brownlow?

LORD: Nope, not Brownlow either.

CS: Okay, because I suspect you think the Brownlow tradition is so intact that if you were suspended you shouldn’t win the Brownlow. I think being out of the game is punishment enough; it’s like best and fairest – most teams, if you miss four or five games due to injury, you can’t win best and fairest, and that doesn’t make any sense to me either, but maybe I’m an outlier.

LORD: I think I know this, but did you win (Rising Star) when Corey McKernan was banned?

CS: I did. If I was the second best player that year, I was only second – he was obviously the best and I think maybe he missed because of a trip or something.

Gerard Whateley: He did so, and the following year (1995) was not a break.

CS: I mean, honestly, being shut out because of it; that’s just crazy. I think the execution was poor, but no one is thinking about the fact that now he is suddenly labeled as an unfair player and should be deprived of winning awards for the rest of the year. Everyone thinks he should be suspended in this day and age, but my point is that when these things were introduced – especially with Brownlow, say in the (19)20s – you could hit a player for a game and not get suspended . Now, because the criteria for suspension is much stricter and somehow the awards haven’t moved with it – and as you say, this award was only encouraged in (19)93; seems a bit outdated to me.

Hawks coach Mitchell then finished with his final two cents, stating that regardless of their ineligibility, the eventual winner would still greatly appreciate the accolade.

“I think he will still have a special moment; I think whoever wins this award, it’s not like you’re going to be read behind (Sam) Darcy and Reid, so you’re still going to get five votes from each of the contestants, which will be a special moment for whoever wins,” explained Mitchell .

Harley Reid will face court on Tuesday night after deciding to challenge his two-week suspension for his attack on Wilson.

Sam Darcy the Dog has decided not to contest his appeal and will return in round 16.

Originally published as ‘This is just crazy’: Chris Scott and Mark Robinson discuss the rising star rule

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