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RFL explain how Leeds Rhinos star used new disciplinary system to escape ban

The 2023 season will mark the introduction of a new disciplinary grading system with the RFL having announced the proposed changes in December.

In effect the less grade offences such as Grade A and B will now receive fines as punishment instead of a match ban.

That’s the case for all Grade A offences whilst Grade B offences, formerly a one of two match ban, can now be either a fine, a one match ban, or both.

The increased leniency surrounding bans is something that’s been test proofed throughout pre-season and we’ve seen multiple examples of the fine system in place.

David Gibbons of North Wales Crusaders received a £40 fine instead of a one game ban but he wasn’t the first man to experience the new system.

Instead that was James Donaldson of Leeds Rhinos who managed to escape a potential two match ban with a fine, albeit of £250 rather than Gibbons’ lesser charge of just £40.

At an RFL briefing this was something that Robert Hicks, Director of Operations and Legal, made particular reference to highlighting that it’s a point of specific attention for the governing body.

“This (new grading system) has already seemed to have an effect, James Donaldson was charged in pre-season with a Grade B offence. If that would have been last season he’d have actually got banned, this year he gets fined. This is about making players accountable for their actions and having to pay fines rather than just sitting out and missing the action.”

The actual RFL report regarding Donaldson’s offence saw him charged under Law 15.1 (d) citing: “Dangerous Throw – Other tackler’s actions were part of the problem (only applies where Player is not aware of other tackler’s actions)”

Donaldson being unaware of the other tackler’s intentions was a clear determining factor as to why he was offered just the fine, and not the fine and one match ban which does remain a possibility for Grade B charges.

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