The NRL has a robust system for incidents of alleged illegal or foul play.
Step 1: Match Officials.
Whilst there have been some issues with referees this season (both on the field and in the Video review), the motivation has been to ensure the fairest possible adjudication. Plenty of work to do and the evolution of match officials to be discussed post season. Do we continue with two referees will be an agenda item?
Step 2: Match Review Committee.
This group of people sit and watch all games conducted over the weekend. I have not seen this process in action but I assume any incident worthy of scrutiny is identified then compared to other incidents that have already been graded previously.
Greg Inglis getting a Grade 4 Dangerous Contact must have been compared to other Grade 4 charges similar in nature or a Grade 3 charge and deemed to be worse than any of these. Every 100 points = 1 match suspension. Any leftover is ‘Carry Over’ if another charge occurs during the season (eg Greg Inglis = 550 points but 412 points with Early Guilty Plea = 4 match suspension + 12 points ‘Carry Over’). Doing a very good job in difficult circumstances. Not for the person looking for accolades from the Clubs.
Step 3: Charges and Player decision.
The system allocates points for each charge then takes into account the players individual history with previous charges/outcomes. Some players will outright plead NOT GUILTY (like Sam Kasiano) whilst others will plead GUILTY but dispute the grading applied to their charge by the Match Review Committee (like Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o).
Most players will plead GUILTY. They receive a 25% discount on the total number of points incurred from their charge(s). For Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o and their dispute of their grading - Unsuccessful = Original points allocation with No discount. Successful = Lower number of points + 25% discount. This is the gamble with challenging the grading or the charge and appearing before the Judiciary Panel.
If Greg Inglis is unsuccessful, he will receive a 5 match suspension (550 points). If he had taken the Early Guilty Plea with 25% discount, he incurs a 4 match suspension (412 points).
Step 4: Judiciary Panel.
If any player disputes his charge grading or his charge altogether then they appear before the Judiciary Panel. I have no idea how these panels are formed or how you become a member but it is comprised of ex-players.
NRL prosecutes the charge and grading. Player defends it. Greg Inglis wanted to dispute the grading. He felt a Grade 2 was fair, the NRL charged him with a Grade 4 and the Judiciary panel returned with a Grade 3. He effectively won his case and will serve a 3 match suspension. (Grade 3 = 400 points + 25% discount = 300 points)
In my opinion, the NRL’s Match Review and Judiciary system is both fair and responsible. The system has been copied by other sports and whilst players and clubs may not be forthcoming in their praise, it continues to improve and evolve to protect rugby league and its players.
There has been plenty of polarised opinion on Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o, Travis Burns and last week Sam Kasiano. There can be some disappointment or happiness with the results but the system allows for the NRL and any player to defend their reputations.