Judiciary Procedure & Grading

JUDICIARY –2012 – Early Plea


In 2008, the structure of rugby league in the Newcastle region changed considerably with the advent of

  1. Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League (2nd Tier)
  2. Hunter Valley Junior Rugby League
  3. The amalgamation of three referees associations into one.

Judiciaries (both senior, controlling the Tooheys League and Junior, U13 – U17) experienced a considerable change in membership. Knowledge of past cases and reasons for penalties imposed could only be obtained from the written summaries of those cases. This was especially evident with the ‘Junior Judiciary’ whose records were very basic, giving little to no detail as to how imposes penalties were determined.

Season 2008 also saw an unprecedented number of players / officials appearing before the Judiciaries

  • 65 senior hearings
  • 68 junior hearings

It may be argued that match officials had ‘overused’ their authority to send players off. However, of the 133 cases to appear before these Judiciaries, over 90% of the charges were proven.

The following are issues that have arisen from this large number of cases

  1. Guilty Plea– At present, a plea of guilty is accompanied with a one week reduction in penalty imposed. This was introduced in the late 1990s after a successful implementation of the ‘Early Plea’ provision in the National RL Judiciary. This provision allowed a player to plead guilty prior to the sitting of the National RL Judiciary and so accept the penalty imposed by the Judiciary without having to appear before the Judiciary. The discount given was in recognition of the savings in NRL resources (the Judiciary not having to be called together). The Newcastle RL Guilty Plea works in a different way. Having pleaded guilty to a charge a Newcastle player still must face the Judiciary (as must all associated officials) in order for the Judiciary to determine the appropriate penalty. There is no saving of resources and in fact, such hearings are often as long as normal hearings. A number of player advocates are now having players plead guilty to receive the discount and then argue the player’s innocence under the guise of obtaining appropriate penalty.
  2. Clean Record– Any player who has not appeared before the Newcastle Judiciary for the last three seasons is, under our current operating system, entitled to a one week discount on any penalty imposed. This is irrespective of the time the player has accumulated with the League.
  3. Referee Documentation– The documentation supplied by the match officials has, over time, become vague, requiring the Judiciary to question match officials at length. The statistical information on the top half of the Judiciary report form is clear, yet the official’s actual report summary (at the bottom of the page) can range from very skeletal to verbose. There have been occasions, especially with the Junior Judiciary, when these reports have not been correctly filled out or even submitted to the Judiciary. Often there has been little time for either the Judiciary or the defending player to acquaint themselves with the reports.
  4. Transparency of Case Decisions– During the 2008 season there have been a number of cases where players and officials have felt that they have been ‘hard done by’ with regard to Judicial decisions. Much of this feeling has stemmed from an ignorance of possible penalties facing a player prior to entering the Judiciary. Many players have relied on anecdotal information received from previous cases.

For example a player charged with Section 15/1 (a) – ‘striking’ may feel he has received a detrimental hearing when given a 6 week suspension. He may base his feelings on previous cases that have resulted in possibly cautions being issued. This player may not be aware of the grading of the striking charge nor the discounts that may have applied, and so feel as though he has received an unfair hearing.


In order to address the above issues and to develop consistency and fairness in Judiciary outcomes, a penalty system, based on the NRL predetermined points system, will be implemented.


Penalty Points

Type of Offence / GradingGrade 1Grade 2Grade 3


Grade 4


Grade 5


High Tackle – Careless125175225275TBD
High Tackle –Reckless200300350400TBD
High Tackle – Intentional400525650750TBD
Dropping Knees300400500600TBD
Dangerous Throw125225325425TBD
Continually Breaking the Laws125225325425TBD
Disputing Decision175225275325TBD
Re-entering Play75125175225TBD
Contrary Conduct225325425525TBD
  • TBD – to be determined

More information can be found here