The AFL have admitted the umpires made a mistake over the contentious stretcher call involving Sydney’s Callum Sinclair in Sunday’s match with the Lions in Brisbane.
Close to the end of match which Sydney won by three points, play was stopped inside the Lions’ forward 50 despite Sinclair being injured down the other end of the field, with a stretcher called for the stricken Swan.
At first it appeared to be a serious knee injury with Sinclair looking in great pain, but he limped off the ground without requiring the stretcher.
Lions coach Justin Leppitsch queried the timing of the decision to bring on the stretcher and whether a team could use such an incident as a tactic to stop the game and get more players back in their defensive 50.
“We all saw it, a bloke tripped over his own feet and they called a stretcher,” Leppitsch said.
“Can we use it as a tactic, now, can we? I don’t know.”
On Monday, however, the AFL absolved the Swans from any blame and accepted full responsibility for an incorrect umpiring decision.
“After reviewing what occurred, it was the AFL view that play was incorrectly stopped in this scenario,” AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane said.
“The umpire has the discretion to stop continuous play when it may interfere with an injured player or the persons attending an injured player.
“This was not the case here with play at the opposite end to the ground to the injured player.
“When a stretcher is on the ground or has been called for, play will be stopped at the next break in play, at the next mark, ball up, out of bounds, free kick, but again this was not the case in this instance.
“The decision to stop play at the time it was stopped was an error.”
Lions CEO Greg Swann told afl.com.au there was some clarity around the issue.
“We accept it now and move on,” Swann said.
“We thought they got it wrong, it doesn’t help us now, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Sydney defender Dane Rampe was reluctant to comment on the issue on Monday, but said it appeared Sinclair had cramp and hyperextended a knee.
“We were a little bit confused when the whistle went, but obviously the game stopped and they made whatever call they made,” Rampe said.