RECOVERY SESSION

In 2007, the Dogs beat the Cats by 20 points in round one. Geelong finished the year on top, the Dogs fourth from the bottom.

In 2006, Essendon beat Sydney. Comfortably. The Dons finished the year second bottom, the Swans runner-up for the flag.

Round one produces rogue results.

A former club president calling for the head of his premiership-winning coach one game after a grand final loss would be a rogue result were it not for the fact that president was Jeff Kennett.

Melbourne fans will hope the heavy Port Adelaide loss proves a rogue result, but recent seasons would suggest that a victory might have been the rogue outcome.

The rogue result of the round should prove to be the decision to clear Lindsay Thomas' bump. But the immediate defence of the match review panel chairman Mark Fraser on Monday to explain that the Thomas decision should, in fact, provide clarity on the panel's thinking, suggests the decision is not rogue at all but rather a clear statement of precedent and the direction of football.

Fraser has pointed to the decision not to lay a charge last year when Jeremy Cameron shepherded Charlie Dixon and broke his jaw.

It was a game between the two newest teams, so, suffice to say, the hit was a jaw-buster but the match itself not a blockbuster. The hit passed almost without notice but, to the extent that it was picked up, the non-charging appeared to be a departure from the norm.

Now it is to be the norm. Others who have bumped and injured players from the whiplash effect of a head into shoulder or head into head and subsequently been suspended will likewise be surprised at this decision. Lance Franklin, for instance, on his catalogue of bumps that have caused him to be outed. Beau Waters, too, will have read the comments with interest.

Clubs had come to expect that if a player chose to bump and the unintended outcome was injury to the head, then the player would be suspended. The players were resigned to it.

For a player to be clear of a charge, the rules require that the contact or injury to the head could not have been reasonably foreseen, but the tribunal has typically ruled that head clashes in bumps are far from unforeseeable. They are, in fact, quite common.

Fraser said the Thomas head clash was ''a complete accident'' in that he did not intend to bump heads. Of course it was. A non-accidental clash of heads is a headbutt and there are other rules for that.

''The only time it wouldn't be [an accident] would be if Thomas had've jumped into the air into the contest,'' he said on the league's website. ''With that, we'd expect someone might know they might come into contact with the head. We don't think players go into a contest thinking a head clash is going to occur.''

Fraser agreed this was a precedent: ''If it's like a head clash, we won't be charging … hopefully people are clearer on the situation''.

Indeed they are. It will be interesting how long this precedent holds now players feel the red light has turned to green. To know how many concussions it takes for the panel to quietly learn that the AFL Commission is not so thrilled at its interpretation of the rules and the idea of players being legally knocked out by bumps.