A fines system will be introduced for some low-grade offences following an extensive review of the NRL Judiciary system.
Offences including careless high tackles, tripping, contrary conduct and detrimental conduct will now result in a $1500 fine for a Grade One offence, rather than demerit points and possible suspension. Players who accept an early guilty plea will have the fine reduced by 25 per cent.
A Working Group which included representatives of NRL Clubs, the Rugby League Players Association and legal representatives of the NRL Judiciary system unanimously supported a hybrid model which incorporates both fines and points.
Other more serious offences including dangerous throws, shoulder charges, kicking and striking will still result in points penalties for Grade One offences.
"Where a player is involved in dangerous actions they can still expect to spend time on the sideline," NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said.
"These changes are the result of an extensive review of the previous process and extensive consultation.
"The aim of the Working Group was to find a fairer and simpler system which ensured players would not miss matches for what would be deemed minor offences."
All fines must be paid by the player and the revenue generated by the payment of fines will be reinvested in player wellbeing and education related initiatives.
Players who are charged with three or more offences during the same season will not be eligible to accept a financial penalty. In those circumstances, offences will be converted to a base penalty of 100 demerit points.
Additionally, following the recommendations of the Match Review/Judiciary review, which were endorsed by the Australian Rugby League Commission this week:
• Some offences will now carry lower points, while the base penalty for some offences stemming from careless, reckless or intentional conduct has increased;
• The categories of offences have been streamlined, decreasing from 17 to 12. This is designed to ensure easier explanation and understanding for all;
• Offences will now universally carry three grades, although offences which are deemed to be more serious than a Grade Three offence will be referred directly to the Judiciary Panel;
• Carry-over points will be not added to charges which attract a fine. However, loadings from offences in the previous two seasons will be relevant for calculating penalties;
• The Match Review Committee will be reduced from five panel members to four, with former NRL Coach Stuart Raper joining Michael Buettner, Michael Hodgson and Ben Ross on the panel in 2017;
• The Judiciary Panel will be cut from a nine-person panel to five, and;
• Judiciary hearings will be held on Tuesday nights.
"These changes are designed to both simplify the system and improve consistency across the decision-making of both the Match Review Committee and the NRL Judiciary," Mr Canavan said.
The Working Group which recommended the changes included Bulldogs Coach Des Hasler, Club CEOs Jim Doyle and Graham Annesley, RLPA General Manager Player Relations Clint Newton, Judiciary Chairman Geoff Bellew, former NRL Counsel Peter Kite as well as key NRL officials including Head of Integrity Nick Weeks and Brian Canavan.
"This Working Group researched, documented, explored and then pressure-tested penalties for minor offences across major sporting competitions domestically and across the globe," Mr Canavan said.
"Our benchmarking analysis researched best-practice models from American sports, including the NFL, NBA and MLB, as well as competitions closer to home.
"Importantly, all of these important changes follow extensive consultation with stakeholders – including the Clubs, the Coaches and the Players.
"The result will be a far more streamlined, fairer system which will be easier to understand and appreciate for everyone in the game."
The new system will be in place for the start of the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM