Maligned Melbourne forward Tomas Bugg has copped a six-game suspension for his ugly behind-the-play hit on Sydney’s Callum Mills.
Bugg pleaded guilty to the charge of intentional conduct with high impact to the head, after he was referred directly to the AFL tribunal for the incident in Friday night’s game at the MCG.
Bugg’s representative Iain Findlay argued a five-game suspension would be appropriate, but the tribunal opted for the six-game ban proposed by the AFL on Tuesday night.
The Jury of Wayne Henwood, Paul Williams and David Pittman took just nine minutes to reach their decision.
Bugg was not called to give evidence at the hearing but spoke afterwards to say he fully accepts the six-week sanction.
“I’m standing here tonight very embarrassed with my actions,” he said.
“I accept full responsibility for my actions.
“I’m looking forward to just working over the next six weeks and earning back respect from my club, my players and everyone in the wider community.”
Mills – who played no further part in the game after the punch – is in doubt to play this week due to ongoing effects of the concussion suffered in the incident.
Tom Bugg statement pic.twitter.com/WLtHZxE33Q
— Nathan Schmook (@NathanSchmook) July 4, 2017
Sydney players were furious with Bugg’s hit and both midfielder Luke Parker and small forward Tom Papley dubbed it a “dog act” in the aftermath.
Bugg apologised after the game on the Seven Network, admitting the footage looked “really bad”.
“I’m a bit embarrassed. It looks really bad but my genuine intent was not to hurt Callum,” he said.
— AFL (@AFL) June 30, 2017
Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones said on RSN Radio on Tuesday that Bugg had “burnt a fair bit of trust with the playing group” for the incident.
The ban is one of the biggest handed down by the AFL Tribunal for a single incident in several years.
Last year, Port Adelaide’s Tom Jonas was also banned for six weeks for intentionally striking West Coast’s Andrew Gaff with a forearm to the head.
Former Swans forward Barry Hall was infamously slapped with a seven-week suspension for a shocking punch that knocked out West Coast’s Brent Staker in 2008.
Only last week, Hall was asked by The Footy Show if he feared that he could have killed Staker. He responded: “Yeah. Absolutely [it] could have been worse. It was a low act … I don’t like it.”
In 2010, St Kilda tagger Steven Baker was banned for nine matches – but the suspensions came after he was charged for four separate incidents in an ill-tempered match against Geelong.
Baker was charged for three different striking offences, while he was also hit with a contentious misconduct charge.
He returned from a three-month lay-off in the 2010 AFL Grand Final, but retired in the following year.