Sydney Swans defeat Richmond Tigers, no 50m penalty against Chad Warner for kicking ball into SCG crowd, rule, reaction

One of the best AFL games of 2022 yet has finished in chaotic and controversial circumstances after an umpire decision to not hand Swan Chad Warner a 50m penalty left Tigers players flabbergasted and divided a fired-up footy world.

With Sydney lead Richmond by six points in the dying seconds of Friday night’s game, Tigers star Dion Prestia was awarded a free kick after being held at a stoppage on the wing.

But it appeared Warner didn’t hear the umpire’s whistle, as it came less than one second before the final siren sounded.

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The circumstances meant a jubilant Warner, who was one of the best players on the ground, kicked the ball high into the SCG grandstand.

It prompted pleas from Richmond players and the commentary box for a 50m penalty.

“He’s kicked the ball over the fence it should be 50!” Channel 7 commentator Brian Taylor said

“There’s no excuses that he doesn’t know.”

As players watched on, a conversation between the umpires then took place on the field.

Umpire John Howorth appeared to seek clarity from peer Brendan Hosking, via the umpire mic system, about the location of the free kick and, crucially, whether a 50m penalty should be paid.

Dylan Grimes of the Tigers questions the umpire after the siren. Picture: Dylan BurnsSource: Getty Images

Howorth asked: “He kicked the ball into the crowd after the free kick … 50m I think?”

However multiple voices were then heard over the umpire mics saying “nah, nah”. One umpire was heard saying: “He couldn’t hear the whistle.”

Howorth replied: “That’s why I’m asking the question. Are we happy with that?”

Howorth then approached Prestia and explained to him why he would have to take his kick from between wing and half-forward and not be advanced 50m.

“He couldn’t have heard the free kick. It’s just common sense, OK?” the umpire said.

Prestia’s kick, inevitably, landed well short of goal and the Swans hung on to win by six points. Coincidentally, it was Warner who marked the ball after Prestia’s kick to ensure there was no impossible, fluky bounce through for a Richmond goal.

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Herald Sun Reporter Jon Ralph told Fox Footy it “might’ve been the most chaotic 20 seconds of the season so far”.

Richmond superstars Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt were both seen having passionate words with umpires post-match.

Warner told Channel 7 after the match he “obviously didn’t know it was a free kick”, adding: “Otherwise I wouldn’t have done that.”

Asked to comment on the incident, Swans coach John Longmire told reporters: “I don’t know. I heard there was a holding free kick paid at the sane time as the siren, so I don’t know what happened. You’d probably have to ask someone else, but that’s what I heard.”

Swans star Callum Mills told Fox Footy post-game: “Ramps (Dane Rampe) said it was going to be 50 and I started going, ‘Oh no’. The reality was it was nice that it wasn’t a 50.”

The incident divided opinion.

Chad Warner and Callum Mills of the Swans. Picture: Cameron SpencerSource: Getty Images

Melbourne champion Garry Lyon told Fox Footy post-match “technically the 50 was there”, but triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown said umpires were not “as strict as they used to be when a player kicks the ball clear”.

“Going by the trend in the way they umpire when players do kick the ball away after a whistle, they normally don’t pay a 50m penalty,” Brown told Fox Footy.

Many fans and commentators thought a 50m penalty should’ve been paid.

“It’s not really up to the umpire to decide the frame of mind of a player who boots that ball away,” Ralph said. “I think it’s up to him to make a really strict interpretation.

“Of course there’s going to be some discretion there. All I’d say is if that’s in any other part of the field and with time on the clock at any other stage of a quarter, that’s a 50m penalty.

“Look it probably would’ve been the gutsiest call of the season.”

Others thought it was the right call.

Seven-time All-Australian Nathan Buckley lauded the whistleblowers for showing “common-sense umpiring”.

“I thought that was well-adjudicated. Took the time, communicating through the mics and earpieces and came to the right conclusion,” Buckley told Fox Footy.

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