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Commission rules on on-field issues

The Australian Rugby League Commission has today approved the removal of the ‘benefit of the doubt’ call and supported a change in the way video referees are called on to make decisions in a meeting that has finalised a series of key on-field issues for 2013, including a resolution of State of Origin eligibility.

From 2013 no player will be eligible to play for NSW or Queensland unless he has lived in that state before the age of thirteen, or unless he is the son of an Origin player. The player must also be eligible to play for Australia.

“State of Origin is an incredibly important part of the game and the heart of the concept is a person’s state of origin,” ARL Commission Chairman, Mr John Grant, said today.

“It is fundamental therefore that the concept is preserved on that basis, simply because it is so unique.

“The Commission introduced a number of important changes to eligibility in 2012 that solved many of the previous arguments, but it did not solve all issues of international player eligibility.

“The Under 13 cut-off is one that has been put forward by the General Manager of Game Development, Andrew Hill, after consultation with greats like Wayne Bennett, Bob Fulton and Tim Sheens, the state leagues and the Origin coaches.”

The decision to alter the role of video referees is among recommendations put forward by the NRL General Manager of Football Operations, Mr Nathan McGuirk, after consultation with NRL Referees Elite Performance Manager Daniel Anderson and the NRL Competition Committee, also comprising Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, Darren Lockyer, Ivan Cleary, Andrew Ryan, Laurie Daley and John Lang.

From 2013, referees will make an on-field call in relation to any try-scoring situation. In the event that the match referee has reservations regarding his original decision he will indicate “time out”, signal that the video referee is to be introduced and then signal his on-field decision.

Only in those cases where the video referee believes there is ‘sufficient’ evidence to suggest the on-field decision is incorrect will he overturn the decision. In either case the video referee will communicate the outcome via the scoreboard.

Having determined at its November meeting that the shoulder charge would be deemed an illegal tackle from 2013, the Commission has today approved an amendment to the NRL Rules that provides a definition of the outlawed tackle:

Where a defender, without attempting to tackle, grab or hold the ball-carrier (or any opposing player) using the arms or hands, makes direct physical contact using the shoulder or the upper arm (tucked into the side).”

Under the amended NRL Judiciary Code Rules, players will no longer be automatically referred to the judiciary panel for illegal contact from shoulder charges.

Instead, penalties for shoulder charges under the NRL Judiciary Code will range from a base of 200 points (two-match suspension) for a Grade 1 charge increasing to 800 points for a Grade 5 charge.

The Commission has also expanded the trials of the Captain’s Challenge System for next year with each televised match in the Under 20s competition to use two referees and implement the challenge system that was trialled at the end of this season.

The introduction of the second referee in these games allows the Captain’s Challenge to be viewed in conditions reflective of an NRL match.

“There are only specific areas that can be challenged such as:  a mandatory penalty; a loss of possession (knock-on, strip) where play is to recommence with a structured start; charge downs where play is to recommence with a structured start; and determining which team last played at the ball prior to the ball going into touch or touch in-goal,” Mr McGuirk said.

“Having trialled it in one game last year this is an opportunity to test the concept in a way that would allow us to make a clear recommendation about its future at NRL level.

“It will also introduce a number of our emerging talented referees into the two referee model in our elite competitions.”

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