NRL 2022 6-Again Rule Adjustment

3rd February 2022

Following consultation with all 16 clubs, the RLPA and stakeholders within the game, The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has approved one rule change for the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership season. The Commission has also approved game day policy amendments.

The rule change is as follows:

Penalties will be awarded instead of set restarts (six again) for ruck or 10m infringements inside the 40m zone of the team in possession. This will provide an additional deterrence to defending teams who are willing to concede set restarts to gain a tactical advantage. It will also provide more opportunities for teams receiving the penalty to attack from a better field position.

Game Day Policy Amendments

Team List Announcements 22nd players – To complement the addition of the 18th player rule introduced last season, team announcements on Tuesday will proportionately increase from 21 to 22 players.

Free Interchange Reduction – A free interchange will only be granted in instances of foul play where the offending player is sin binned or sent-off. A free interchange will no longer apply when players are placed on report.

Injury Stoppages adjustment – With the exception of head injuries, only a referee, touch judge or The Bunker will be permitted to stop play for an injury. Trainers will retain the ability to stop play where a head injury has occurred. Medical trainers will continue to have unlimited access to the field at any time to treat an injured player.

NRL 2022 Expanded Player Pool

17th February 2022

NRL clubs will be able to access development players or draft in talent from their State Cup feeder teams to ensure they can field a competitive side if there is a COVID-19 outbreak during the upcoming season. NRL CEO Andrew Abdo outlined the measures the game was taking to minimise the risk of matches being postponed or cancelled. With COVID-19 cases now widespread throughout the community, most clubs have had off-season training disrupted by players contracting the coronavirus but NRL officials are determined that the Telstra Premiership will not be impacted. To minimise COVID-19 spreading among teams, players undergo rapid antigen tests each day before training or games but NRL salary cap auditor Richard Gardham has advised clubs of the options open to them if players test positive.

"We are working with the clubs on the rapid testing but also the movement of players from the State Cup competitions or outside of the NRL squad into the NRL squad to ensure there is sufficient depth if there were to be some positives during the season," Abdo said. We have communicated to the clubs that there is an opportunity for them to access players outside the top 30 before round 11, on the basis of the impact of a COVID positive case. Provided that the salary cap auditor has been provided evidence that there has been a positive COVID case for a player, then clubs are able to access players from outside their top 30 list in a controlled manner."

There will be no change to the size of NRL squads, but each club is allowed up to six development players they can now call on from round one and will also be allowed to call on talent with feeder teams in the NSWRL Knock On Effect Cup or Queensland’s Hostplus Cup.

"Our salary cap auditor has been in contact with the clubs on how that will work, and the clubs are very well aware of that, so that is going to allow us hopefully sufficient protections should there be an outbreak," Abdo said. "We are increasing the squad size in terms of travel day, particularly for clubs that travel interstate, and we have provided flexibility for clubs to be able to draft in players from outside their top 30 squad. All of this is geared up to ensure that there is sufficient depth and competitiveness of the team to get on the field. The rapid testing and rapid testing every day means it is very unlikely that we will see a mass breakout at a club. However, in the unlikely event that we have that we have contingencies in place to access broader players so at this stage we don’t believe that we will be a place where we have to postpone or cancel games."

NRL 2022 Revision of Concussion Policy - Independant Doctors

24th February 2022

Doctors independent of clubs will now rule if players are concussed as the NRL continues its crackdown on head injuries. The doctors will make rulings from the NRL bunker and have the power to rub players out of matches, relieving that decision from club medicos. Medical experts have been lobbying for years to take concussion calls away from club-employed doctors and the NRL have listened. Independent doctors will sit in the NRL bunker and they can immediately sideline a player for the rest of match if they have concussion symptoms. Those include but are not limited to a player losing consciousness, falling without protecting themselves and unsteadiness on their feet. Previously, a player could be ruled out of a match by a club doctor at the ground. But following a recommendation from the NRL’s medical advisory panel, doctors can now make that call from thousands of kilometres away in the bunker. The bunker doctors will be able to view multiple camera angles and speak directly to club medicos on the sideline. Concussion spotters have been in the bunker for years but they didn’t have the power to rub players out of the game, until now. All 16 clubs and the Rugby League Players Association were told about the changes this week and they will be in place for the NRLW and NRL seasons.

NRL 2022 Judicary Points system retired

10th March 2022

The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) has approved enhancements to the Judiciary and Match Review Committee and the retirement of the points system, aimed at making the processes simpler to understand and more consistent for participants.

Match Review Committee (MRC)

The pool of available Match Review Committee Members will also be expanded with former coaches and former referees joining former players as members. The MRC Manager will have the casting vote on whether a charge is issued, if there is a deadlock. Former Player Luke Patten has been appointed the MRC Manager. The match review will remain independent, with the NRL CEO and ARL Commission having the ability to refer matters for the MRC to review an incident for charging not already captured by the Match Review Committee.

Judiciary

The pool of available Judiciary panel members will be expanded with former coaches and former referees now eligible to be members along with former players on two-member judiciary panels. The Judiciary Chairman will now observe the judiciary panel’s deliberations and will provide the casting vote where the verdict is not unanimous. Once the verdict is announced, the Judiciary Chairman will now provide a summary which explains the reasons for the panel’s decision. This will better inform clubs, players and the public of the reasons behind a decision.

Charges and Penalties

The existing points system, including carryover points, has been retired and made simpler with players issued with fines or a suspension. Every player will begin 2022 with a clean slate with player records reset on a rolling 12-month period since their last offence. Players serving suspensions from last season will be required to complete their existing suspensions. All Grade 1 Offences will carry a fine except for a reckless high tackles, which is effectively treated as starting at an equivalent of a Grade 4, following on from careless high tackles. The number of offences will be streamlined into 8 categories. Players who enter an early guilty plea will be eligible to have their suspensions reduced by one week. Additional guidance and video libraries of examples of each category and grading will be made available. The changes will add more diverse experience to the decision making panels, simplify sanctions and reduce anomalies where players received significantly different penalties for similar offences because of carry over points. In particular, to ensure consistency, a decision tree with video examples will be used for each type of offence by the Match Review Committee. The process will be easier to understand and more transparent. The changes will be effective from Round 1 of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership.

Revised Indicative Table with Amalgamated Penalties


OFFENCE                 GRADE   1ST OFFENCE     2ND OFFENCE       3RD OFFENCE
                                (Early plea in brackets)	

High Tackle - Careless  1       $1500 ($1000)   $2500 ($1800)     2 matches ($3000)
                        2       2 matches (1)   3 matches (2)     4 matches (3)
                        3       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)
High Tackle - Reckless  4(1)    4 matches (3)   5 matches (4)     6 matches (5)
                        5(2)    5 matches (4)   6 matches (5)     7 matches (6)
                        6(3)    6 matches (5)   7 matches (6)     8 matches (7)

Dangerous Contact       1       $1500 ($1000)   $2500 ($1800)     2 matches ($3000)
                        2       2 matches (1)   3 matches (2)     4 matches (3)
                        3       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)

Dangerous Throw         1       $1500 ($1000)   2 matches ($2500) 3 matches (2)
                        2       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)
                        3       5 matches (4)   6 matches (5)     7 matches (6)

Striking                1       $2000 ($1500)   2 matches ($3000) 4 matches (3)
                        2       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)
                        3       4 matches (3)   5 matches (4)     6 matches (5)

Crusher Tackle          1       $2000 ($1500)   2 matches ($3000) 4 matches (3)
                        2       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)
                        3       4 matches (3)   5 matches (4)     6 matches (5)

Contrary Conduct        1       $1500 ($1000)   $2500 ($1800)     2 matches ($3000)
                        2       2 matches (1)   3 matches (2)     4 matches (3)
                        3       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)

Shoulder Charge         1       $2000 ($1500)   2 matches ($3000) 4 matches (3)
                        2       3 matches (2)   4 matches (3)     5 matches (4)
                        3       4 matches (3)   5 matches (4)     6 matches (5)

High Tackle Reckless is effectively treated as a grade up from High Tackle Careless.


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