After clinching their first grand final berth since 1980 against the Giants at the MCG on Saturday, the Richmond army were understandably on a high of which the majority would have never experienced in their lifetimes.
It was party time in Tiger territory on Saturday and rightly so. The club’s long-suffering fans had just made it through to the biggest game of the year, and the 95 odd thousand who attended the game spilled out on to the streets around the MCG to celebrate their historic victory.
And none were better in that victory than Skipper Trent Cotchin. The at times maligned midfielder was everywhere against the Giants, racking up an equal game-high 26 disposals – of which 19 were contested, seven clearances and nine tackles.
However, while Cotchin’s game was quite justifiably and universally lauded, most of the talk after the game centred around his hit on Giant’s midfielder Dylan Shiel around the 14-minute mark of the first quarter.
While Shiel was attempting to pick up a low loose ball, Cotchin came in from the side to contest the footy, and in the process his shoulder collected the young Giant’s chin leaving him prostrate on the boundary line for a few moments.
Although Shiel left the ground, he returned soon after, although, after apparently showing signs of delayed concussion he was taken from the field and did not return.
After the game, Channel Seven commentators felt Cotchin had no case to answer as his intent was purely to win the ball and the contact was incidental. Both coaches also said in their post-match media conferences that they hoped he would be playing next week.
However, while only the most cynical of punters would claim Cotchin’s attempt to win the ball was anything but, the MRP has shown this season it is the end result of the act, rather than the act itself which decides the penalty.
And in this case, the end result was that Shiel suffered delayed concussion and could not play out the game.
The precedence has been set by the MRP in 2017 with no better example than Brodie Grundy’s suspension for his tackle on Ben Brown.
Nathan Buckley referred to the tackle as perfect, and until Brown’s head hit the ground it was – and Cotchin may find himself in a similar situation.
Up until his shoulder made contact with Shiel’s head, Cotchin had contested the ball perfectly. He went in low and hard to put himself between his opponent and the ball as he would have been coached to do since he first played the game as a young lad.
Yet be that as it may, the fact remains that Shiel ended up with concussion from a head high hit (incidental or not), and due to previous decisions the MRP have left themselves very little wriggle room not to sanction the Tiger’s Skipper.
Cotchin’s recent record will also weigh heavily against him, as even a fine would translate to a week’s suspension due to him being out of pocket twice already this season for minor indiscretions on the field.
Except for the vast majority of Crow’s supporters, most footy fans would agree there is no way Cotchin should miss out on the biggest game of his career for his contest with Shiel, however, the MRP is not most footy fans and any romanticism is in necessity left at the door when they make their rulings.
With Dustin Martin an unbackable favourite to take out the 2017 Brownlow, Monday could prove to be the most bittersweet of days for Tiger’s supporters if their skipper is sanctioned by the MRP. For footy’s sake let’s hope that isn’t the case.