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The decision on whether a player should be charged with misconduct is made by the Match Review Panel.
The Match Review Panel is made up of the Compliance Manager (who chairs the Panel) and side members drawn from people with appropriate expertise (such as former players, referees and coaches).
In relation to each round of Super League Matches (or Challenge Cup matches involving Super League teams), each match is reviewed in full by a member of the Panel to identify incidents which should be considered by the full Panel.
These incidents are then considered by the Panel on the Monday morning following that Round and the Panel decide what action should be taken in relation to the relevant player(s).
In relation to each round of Championship matches, Northern Rail Cup matches or Challenge Cup matches solely involving Championship teams, the Panel meet on the Thursday following the Round in question and consider any incidents that have been reported by Match Officials or otherwise brought to the attention of the Panel.
If a club wishes to bring any incidents of alleged misconduct to the attention of the Panel they must notify the Compliance Manager by:
(a) in the case of Super League players, no later than 10.00am on the first working day after the incident;
(b) in the case of Championship players, no later than 12.00noon on the Wednesday following the day on which the incident took place.
Options Available to the Panel
In relation to each player considered, the Panel has the following options:
Charge the player and refer the matter to an Operational Rules Tribunal
Caution the player - in which case, subject to the player’s right of appeal to an Operational
Rules Tribunal, the caution will be placed on the player’s record
Decide there is no case to answer (in which case the Panel may still send the player a warning/advice letter)
Where a player has been dismissed from the field of play, deem the referee’s decision to send the player from the field of play sufficient punishment and place this finding on the player’s record
Refer the matter to the Compliance Manager for further investigation
All decisions of the Panel will be minuted and published on the RFL website.
If a player is charged he will receive a detailed charge letter via his club. The charge letter will include:
The Law of the Game the player is alleged to have breached
The detail of the alleged offence
The grade of the offence (see below)
The normal suspension range for that grade and whether the Compliance Manager will be asking the tribunal to step outside that range (see below)
The evidence the CM will be relying on
Whether the player has the opportunity to enter an Early Guilty Plea
The date of the hearing
A summary of the player’s rights at that hearing
If a player is cautioned he will receive a caution letter via his club, which will include:
The Law of the Game the Panel consider the player has breached
The detail of the alleged offence
The evidence the Panel has based its decision on
Details on how a player may appeal the Panel’s decision to an Operational Rules Tribunal (including the seven day deadline for doing so)
Early Guilty Plea
A player who has:
been charged with an offence of Grade A-C; and
who has not been found guilty of any other charge of on field misconduct before the tribunal, or by submitting a previous Early Guilty Plea, in the 12-months preceding the date of the match in which the alleged offence took place;
May elect to make an Early Guilty Plea by informing the RFL Operations department of his intention to do so before 11.00am on the day of any scheduled hearing. This will result in the lower end of the suspension range for the grade of offence set out in the charge letter being imposed (i.e. for a Grade B offence a one-match suspension will be imposed).
A player making such an Early Guilty Plea will not be subject to any fine but will forfeit the right to any hearing. For the avoidance of doubt the right to make an Early Guilty Plea only applies to initial hearings and not to any appeal hearing.
Grading & Description of Offences
All offences are graded in six grades A - F where Grade A is the lowest level of offence and Grade F the most serious.
The commonest offences are listed in the sentencing guidelines with a description to assist all those concerned in referring to incidents in a standardised manner. It is accepted that there will be incidents not covered by the guideline descriptions and each sub section of the laws includes ‘Other Offences’ which can be graded from A to F.
Sentencing Guidelines for each Grade of Offence
|Grade||Normal Suspension Range|
|Grade A||No Further Action - 1|
|Grade B||1 - 2 Matches|
|Grade C||2 - 3|
|Grade D||3 - 5|
|Grade F||8(plus) or period of suspension|
Normal Suspension Ranges - Guidelines Only
Players and clubs should be aware that the normal suspension ranges are guidelines only and the tribunal has the discretion to step outside of the normal ranges in the following three circumstances:
If the Compliance Manager has advised the player that, in the light of specified aggravating factors, they are going to seek a higher sanction and the tribunal agree that such factors mean a higher sanction should be imposed;
If the tribunal has previously advised the player that it will apply a higher sanction next time that player is found to have committed a misconduct offence; or
If the tribunal feels that in the light of the aggravating and mitigating factors present it is appropriate to step outside of the normal suspension range (irrespective of whether this has been equested by the Compliance Manager).
Hearing of on Field Operational Rules Tribunal
Composition and Process
Appointments for hearings at the Operational Rules Tribunal (the “tribunal”) will be made by the Operations Department.
At the tribunal an independent chairman and two side members will consider all the evidence put before them.
Options Available to the Tribunal
The tribunal shall determine:
Whether an offence has been committed
If so, the grade (see below) of the offence
Where a player has been found guilty of an offence, the appropriate sanction (in accordance with the Sentencing Guidelines)
If the tribunal does not consider that it can reach a decision on the evidence before it, it may refer the incident to the Compliance Manager for further investigation.
Order of Proceedings
The Chairman will determine the order of proceedings; however usually:
The Chairman will read the charge to the tribunal
The player or his representative will admit or deny the offence (and the grading of the offence)
The Compliance Manager will present the case for the Panel
The player or his representative will present the player’s case
If the player denies the offence the tribunal will consider whether the offence was committed and the grade of any such offence (the player and Compliance Manager will retire while this decision is made) and only if the tribunal find that the player has committed an offence will it then go on to consider the appropriate sanction
If the player admits the offence or if the tribunal decides that an offence was committed then both the Compliance Manager and the player will have the opportunity to make submissions to the tribunal in relation to the appropriate sanction. The tribunal will then determine the appropriate sanction in accordance with the Sentencing Guidelines
There will be the usual use of DVDs and reports.
Incident not part of play
Other aggravating factors
Previous Good Record
Technique or Fitness in some cases
Other Mitigating Factors
The tribunal’s adjudications will:
Be published in full
Include all aggravating and/or mitigating factors taken into consideration
Explain any deviation from the sentencing guidelines
Give clear and full reasons for the decision