Could Super League replicate new disciplinary system set to be used down under?

Super League saw huge proposals last week that would change how the disciplinary system for the league works, with major changes proposed at a meeting of the Rugby League Council.

However in the NRL a player-orientated disciplinary committee has been proposed and is set to be implemented for 2023 giving players a voice in fines, bans and charges – something which Super League may follow suit with.

The RFL Council proposed changes which will bring Super League and English rugby league more in line with the NRL in which players can be fined as opposed to suspended, with a more lenient grading system in general being suggested.

It would mean that suspensions dished out will likely result in a player receiving a ban one or two games less severe than the 2022 season, depending on the grading, with the added fine reducing the amount of games players will miss in 2023.

This shift towards an NRL based system could therefore see a replication of the NRL’s new player driven disciplinary system and Super League players could help rule on opposition player suspensions in the near future.

In regard to the confirmed RFL proposals they shared a statement on their site last week highlighting the more lenient disciplinary rules for the upcoming season.

“Proposed changes to the On Field Misconduct Rules will be presented at tomorrow’s meeting of the Rugby League Council, following a review into procedures for dealing with On-Field Misconduct carried out in consultation with clubs,” the statement read.

“The review was recommended by the RFL executive in July, five years after a previous club-led review, and partly in response to the impact of changes to charging and sentencing guidelines that were introduced for the 2022 season, leading to significant increases in the number of charges and resulting suspensions – all introduced with the priority of player safety.”

In explaining that sentences were having a desired effect of influencing change in player behaviour the recommendations were presented.

“That led to a recommendation for fines to have a greater role, alongside suspensions, in increasing the accountability of players for their on-field actions, given the primary importance of player behaviour in promoting the importance of safety in the sport.

“This means that a Grade A offence, at the lowest end of the scale, would be punished by either a caution or a fine, whereas it could previously have resulted in a one-match suspension. Similarly, a Grade B offence could also be punishable by either a fine, a one-match suspension, or both, whereas it would previously have meant a ban of either one or two matches.”

A list of the proposed changes can be viewed here on the RFL site, however the proposed changes in the NRL will draw comments on these recent RFL proposals with the NRL going a step further and allowing players to adjudicate on bans.

As per The Daily Telegraph in Australia, a consultation committee will be formed in which eight members from all areas of the game will provide viewpoints on any offences and will decide as a collective, as opposed to the current system of higher ups making the calls.

The eight member committee will consist of: 

– two current chief executives from clubland

– two players (current players/RLPA members)

– three members of NRL senior management (likely Jared Maxwell, Andrew Abdo and Graham Annesley)

– one independent commissioner

It’s noteworthy that current players will comprise a quarter of the committee and whilst it’s undetermined whether a voting system will rule on charges or whether decisions will be made as a whole, it’s a major step for players to be involved.

Rugby League Players’ Association boss Clint Newton spoke about the fact players will get a say in these decisions.

“The more fatigued you are, the more chance you are of making a bad decision and potentially getting hurt,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s like driving a car – the more fatigued you are, the more chance you have of making a bad decision. Any rule change from here on needs a proper analysis with all parties involved. It is important for the players to have a voice.”

It’s reported that the commission will meet every three months to accommodate the changing landscape of the game, something that we could see in the future for Super League.

So often the English game follows suit of what the NRL does and whilst the RFL are actively considering changing the disciplinary process, there is potential that they could review how this system works for the 2023 campaign down under before assessing its use in Super League.

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