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Disciplinary Matters

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 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 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.

Charge Letters

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 E 4 - 8
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.

Sentencing Guidelines

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Aggravating Factors

„Previous Record



Injury caused

Incident not part of play

Other aggravating factors

Mitigating Factors

„Previous Good Record


Technique or Fitness in some cases

Genuine Remorse

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