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NRL Mailbox: judiciary and Match Review process

NRL Wed, Jun 15, 2011 - 12:00 PM

How the judiciary process works Copyright: Action Photographics

We often get asked about decisions made by the NRL Match Review Committee and Judiciary so we thought we’d briefly explain the process of investigating on-field incidents.

Our judiciary system continues to be the benchmark for disciplinary procedures amongst sporting codes in Australia. We have seen a significant drop in recent years in the amount of suspensions handed out to players for on-field misconduct. For the opening half of the year, only 18 weeks in suspension have been handed out in the NRL competition.

For all of 2010 there was a total of 66 weeks suspension. To put that into context with past seasons, in 2004, 194 weeks in suspension were given, 156 in season 2005, so to be able to reduce this by up to two-thirds and to see a cleaner game in this time is a great credit to players and coaches of all clubs and shows the game’s rules and procedures are working extremely well. Our best players are spending more time on the field of play and not off it, something which is great for our fans.  

The NRL Match Review Committee (MRC) looks at incidents in every game each week. The Committee includes a former referee, former coach and former player and they make their decisions independently of the NRL administration. In doing so they look closely at all precedents and all circumstances of an incident.

It is important to note, that an incident which is not penalised in a match may, upon further review, lead to a charge from the Match review Committee. Similarly, an incident placed on report by the referee may not lead to a charge from the MRC.

If a player is charged by the MRC, the matter is then determined via Judiciary through a panel of former players under the direction of a District Court judge. Again, these are people who act independently and who make decisions on the basis of the evidence before them and nothing else. That evidence includes not only video evidence but testimony from the player and other parties.

To ensure consistency and fairness in penalties awarded by the NRL Judiciary, penalties are awarded according to a  pre-determined points system (see table below). Each 100 points will result in a one-match suspension.

For example, a penalty of 275 points will result in a player receiving a two match suspension, with the remaining 75 points staying on the player’s record as ‘carry-over points’.   5 carry-over points will be deducted for each match the player participates in after his charge.  Carry-over points will only last on a player’s record for a maximum of 12 months , if they haven’t already been deducted.

Following the end of each round, clubs are advised of details of charges laid by the MRC. Clubs have until noon on the following day to enter a plea on charges.

If the club and player plead guilty, no judiciary hearing is necessary. If the player and his club plead not guilty or ask that the ‘grading’ of the charge be downgraded, he will be required to put his case to the judiciary.

Charges are graded 1 to 5 with one being the lightest grading and five the most serious. The charge and grading determine the base penalty a player may receive. On rare occasions, the Match Review Committee will not recommend a grading because of the seriousness of an incident. In such instances the charge will be automatically referred to the Judiciary.

If a player enters an early plea to the offence and accepts the grading, the player is entitled to a reduction of 25 per cent of the base penalty and also a similar reduction in any increases due to other previous offences. A player can enter an early plea up until midday on the day following the charge.

Alternatively, the player may prefer to have the charge heard by the panel by either entering a not guilty plea or a guilty plea but dispute the grading. If found guilty at the subsequent hearing, the player receives no reduction unless the panel reduces the grading. If the player pleads guilty but disputes the grading and the panel does reduce the grading, the player also receives the benefit of the early plea discount.

Offence Demerit Points

Everyone has a right to disagree with decisions made by the Match Review Committee or Judiciary however it is important to emphasise that the decisions they make are not influenced by  any consideration other than what they thought was the appropriate charge or ruling at the time.

Offence
Demerit Points

Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Tripping
75
175
275
375
475
Kicking
200
300
400
500
600
Striking
125
225
325
425
525
Intentional High Tackle
550
650
750
850
950
Reckless High Tackle
300
350
400
450
500
Careless High Tackle
75
125
175
225
275
Dropping Knees
200
300
400
500
600
Dangerous Throw
125
325
525
725
925
Law Breaking
75
100
125
150
175
Offensive Language
75
100
125
150
175
Disputing Decision
75
125
175
225
275
Re-entering Play
75
125
175
225
275
Contrary Conduct
125
225
325
425
525
Obstructing
75
125
175
225
275
Detrimental Conduct
125
225
325
425
525
Dangerous Conduct
100
250
400
550
700