AFL Tribunal 2022 live updates, blog, Lance Franklin striking, Sydney Swans vs Richmond, Trent Cotchin, striking, news, result

The AFL has formally apologised to Lance Franklin after the league’s AFL Tribunal counsel labelled him “cowardly” during Wednesday’s tense hearing.

Franklin and Sydney Swans failed to overturn the star forward’s one-match ban for striking Richmond’s Trent Cotchin after an adversarial hearing that involved surprising comments from both sides.

AFL counsel Andrew Woods argued Franklin was “angry” Cotchin was restricting the star’s “freedom” when the contact was made, saying his actions were “cowardly”.

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“Franklin’s eyes are squarely on Cotchin throughout,” Woods.

“Franklin strikes him off the ball – which determines intention.

“The frustration and anger that are visibly demonstrated in the video, they show he clearly lashed out against Cotchin.

“You can be comfortably satisfied that Franklin intended to strike Cotchin.”

The league released a statement on Thursday declaring “Lance Franklin is a champion of our game” and reiterated its “respect for Lance and his standing in the game.”

“There are no cowardly players in the AFL, let alone Lance Franklin. Lance Franklin is a champion of our game,” the statement read.

“In the making of submissions, Legal Counsel Assisting the Tribunal used his own words to describe the circumstances of the strike on Trent Cotchin, namely that Mr Cotchin was reasonably not expecting to be struck by Mr Franklin.

“Trent Cotchin is a Premiership Captain and one of the most respected leaders in the competition.

“It is the AFL’s view that rhetorical flourishes of the nature used by both Counsel last night should not be part of the AFL tribunal process and they do not reflect the views of the AFL.”

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In remarkable scenes on Wednesday night, Sydney counsel Duncan Miller argued Cotchin had “exaggerated” the contact he received, claiming the Tigers star could earn an invite to the “Logies” rather than the Brownlow Medal.

“We say it brushed his chin … it’s glancing contact,” Miller argued.

“The exaggerated head movement back and the rest of the pictures show exactly what it was – there’s a wry smile on Mr Cotchin’s face.”

But Tribunal chair Jeff Gleeson disagreed with the assessment and determined Franklin intended to strike Cotchin.

“He was looking directly at him,” Gleeson said.

“He was obviously upset at being blocked while looking the ball.”

The Swans argued Franklin’s strike was a “shotput from the shoulder” push that went wrong because Cotchin lifted his arm, forcing the contact high.

Miller claimed Franklin’s conduct with not intentional, with the star Swan giving evidence that he was simply trying to push Cotchin away.

When asked directly if he meant to strike Cotchin high, Franklin replied: “Absolutely not.”

“No way would I ever do that,” he said.

“It‘s not in the spirit of the game – I definitely wouldn’t have done it.”

Franklin rejected the suggestion Cotchin was “getting under his skin”.

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It was agreed that Franklin’s contact with Cotchin happened in three stages – the first an open palm push, the second the alleged strike, and the third a bump after a free kick was reversed in Cotchin’s favour.

Miller said the intent and force of the first contact was the same used in the second action – but blamed Cotchin’s lifting arm for Franklin’s hand moving higher than intended.

“If the first motion, the open-handed push to the chest was regarded by the MRO as not constituting a strike, the second identical motion – a second open handed push, was no different,” Miller said.

The Richmond medical report showed Cotchin did not require any medical treatment or miss any training as a result of the contact from Franklin.

Woods said it was only due to an “element of luck” that Cotchin was not injured by Franklin’s actions, despite the Swans arguing the contact was negligible – not low as it was graded.

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“It was forceful, direct; Cotchin’s head is thrown back suddenly,” Woods argued.

“I’m at a bit of a loss how it could be submitted its negligible.

“It was an intentional strike.”

It’s not the first time Franklin has fronted at the AFL tribunal – last year he had a one-match ban for striking Fremantle’s Luke Ryan overturned.

Franklin’s rap sheet of MRO charges has seen him found guilty 16 times, fined a total of $13,750 and miss seven games through suspension.

Recap the AFL Tribunal hearing in our blog below!

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