NRL warns against judiciary sledging - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL warns against judiciary sledging

By Todd Balym 05/03/2009 05:16:01 PM Comments (0)

The NRL insists it is not trying to censor the game despite warning players and officials they risk fines for criticising the judiciary system.

Following last year's defamatory press conference by Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy which earned the Storm a record $50,000 fine, the NRL has moved to re-educate players and officials about what can and cannot be said in the media regarding judicial incidents.

Officials are warned against making prejudicial comments and, much like the guidelines for talking about referees, they are not allowed to suggest impropriety, bias or unfairness when discussing judiciary matters.

NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley has provided clubs with a list of acceptable and unacceptable statements, but says policing public comment is difficult and will be done on a case by case basis.

"We don't believe we should be stifling all comment on these matters," said Annesley.

"But each case will be judged on its merits."

The censoring of public comment is one of several changes to come into effect for 2009 after a controversial end to the Centenary season.

Carry-over points will be reduced by five points each game played instead of the previous lifespan of 12 months.

Under the new system Storm captain Cameron Smith would not have missed last year's grand final as the 27 week period between his first and second offence would have eroded his carryover points.

But the NRL is adamant the rule was not linked to Smith's case - even though it put the unfairness of carryover points into a harsh perspective.

"This is not the Cameron Smith rule," said Annesley.

"It seemed unfair when we reviewed it, there was a particular anomaly that when you get to 12 months all your points disappear but when you're almost at 12 months they are still on your record.

"It creates an incentive for the players not to be charged again."

Grapple tackles are no longer viewed as contrary conduct, with a new charge known as dangerous conduct to encompass all forms of illegal wrestling holds.

It is hoped the new grading system will see more charges being laid by the match review committee after it was viewed that too many grapples went unpunished in 2008 because the system meant even a base charge resulted in a one-week suspension.

The minimum charge has therefore been reduced to 100 points, which can be further lowered with an early guilty plea, while more serious offences offer greater penalty ranging from 250 to 700 points.

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