The decision on whether a player should be charged with On-Field Misconduct is made by the Match Review Panel (the “Panel”).
The Panel is made up of the Compliance Manager (who chairs the Panel) and 4 side members drawn from people with appropriate expertise (such as former players, referees and coaches).
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 12.00 noon on the Wednesday following the day on which the incident took place.
In relation to each incident the Match Review Panel consider, the Panel has the following options:
- Charge the Player with On Field Misconduct (an “Offence”)
- 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. Where an offence has been deemed Sending Off Sufficient, the Player shall have the right of appeal, such appeal to be submitted within 7 days.
- Refer the matter to the Compliance Manager for further investigation.
All relevant decisions of the Panel will be minuted and published on the RFL website.
A charged 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 (including charges in the NRL), or by submitting a previous Early Guilty Plea (including charges in the NRL), in the 12 months preceding the date of the Match in which the alleged Offence took place; and
- who has not been permanently sent from the field in a Match in the 12 months preceding the date of the Match (unless subsequently found not guilty of such an offence). For the avoidance of doubt if an incident was deemed Sending Off Sufficient by the Panel, the player involved is no longer eligible to elect to make an Early Guilty Plea for 12 months from the date of the match in which he was dismissed;
may elect to make an Early Guilty Plea by informing the RFL Operations department of his intention to do so before 11.00 am 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). The suspension takes effect from midnight the day following the scheduled hearing the case would have been heard at had the player not made an Early Guilty Plea.
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.
For the avoidance of doubt if a Player has previously used an Early Guilty Plea the date from which the 12-month period starts will be the date on which the previous suspension started and not the date on which he entered the Early Guilty Plea.
In the event that the Panel receive information that an injury has been caused as a result of an incident of On Field Misconduct, the Panel may elect to withdraw the Early Guilty Plea option even if the Player would have been otherwise eligible for it. In such cases, the matter shall be referred to the Operational Rules Tribunal who may consider such injury as an aggravating factor.
If the Player is not eligible for an Early Guilty plea, or chooses not to submit an Early Guilty Plea, or if the Charge is Graded D or above, the matter will be referred to the On-Field Operational Rules Tribunal for determination.
This is an independent Tribunal made up of a legally qualified Chair (a serving or retired Judge) and the side members are ex-professional players.
The Tribunal will consider all evidence presented to them by the Player and the Compliance Manager (on behalf of the Match Review Panel.)
The Tribunal then determine if the Player is guilty of an offence, the grade of that offence and what the appropriate sanction should be. Sanctioning decisions are made pursuant to the On Field Sentencing Guidelines.
The Tribunal also has the right to fine a player. Fines are not and will not be issued instead of suspensions and will not be used in an exemplary manner. The fine structure is as set out below. The money generated from fines goes towards Rugby League good causes such as player welfare and the RFL Benevolent Fund.
Reserve – Championship: £25
Super League Academy: £50
League 1: £75
Super League: £300
For a detailed description of how the RFL's Disciplinary process works, please see the document to download the On Field Compliance & Sentencing Guidelines.
There is a right of appeal against the findings of the On-Field Operational Rules Tribunal.