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Rugby league disciplinary process explained by ex-referee

Former referee Ian Smith has spoken on Youtube channel the Dock House Rugby Show about how the rugby league disciplinary process works.

The Match Review Panel (MRP) has come under fire in recent weeks and months with claims of inconsistency, however, Smith has said that isn’t the case.

“I think it’s unfair, because of all the little nuances and idiosyncracies that makes one guilty and not guilty, it’s so intricate,” Smith said.

“They might get some wrong but I really do think they are as consistent as they possibly can be.”

Smith also explained how all the process gets to the end result of a ban or charge.

“You’ve got the match review panel which is made up of four ex players – they will look at all the incidents of a weekend and catalogue and minute it.

“If you give a player a ban of two matches and if the player isn’t happy about that and think the gradient is too high or they think they’re not guilty, then they can appeal.

“When they go to appeal there is an independent judge and two side panel members, so new additions one being Leon Pryce, they will sit on the appeals committee.

“For example, Luke Gale ran into the referee and was given a two match ban he appealed and his ban was reduced to one.”

The former official said how difficult it is to differentiate between all the gradings.

“Each bit of foul play will come under a category and that will have a grading.

“This is where most people fall out because if I punched you that could come under a Grade A, B or C.

“Some of it depends on force – is it sustained, is it violent and do I cause you an injury? I could punch you and not even mess your hair up or I could break your jaw.

“Some people see no further action for a punch and others see a three-match ban because one was delivered with force and caused an injury.

“The injury will determine the force, is it careless, reckless or deliberate? Then the four experts and MRP will decide what grading that foul play deserves.

“There is a lot of thought and a lot of process that goes into it but ultimately it is still opinion that decides what grading it is.

“You will never please everybody because people are always watching.”

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