The Australian Rugby League commission held their final meeting of the year, with a number of pressing issues discussed on the agenda.
At the forefront of the meeting was recent reports of assault and violence against women, in the aftermath of the Jack de Belin case, and the commission were firm in their stance alongside the NRL that they would take a strong stance to combat violence against women.
St George Illawarra Dragons and New South Wales forward Belin was charged with sexual assault following an alleged incident in Wollongong on Sunday, 9 December.
It was agreed that the commission would ensure action is taken over the game to deal with such incidents. Chairman Peter Beattie confirmed that an audit would be undertaken to discover the steps currently taken by clubs to ensure the actions regarding violence over women were adequate by clubs, with a report to be compiled in the new year.
A further audit will also be compiled into the current education and wellbeing programs on the prevention of violence against women that are provided by the NRL and any community partners that are linked to the competition or any of its member clubs.
Various other topics were discussed included player agents, whereby the commission paid homage to the NRL, RLPA and agents after an agreement was reached regarding a new accreditation scheme for agents intending to work in the game.
The new scheme will be observed by a board consisting of representatives from the NRL, RLPA and player agents. The NRL and the RLPA will divide responsibility, with the NRL being in charge of rules and due discipline for agents and the RLPA will oversee the management and administration of the scheme.
The Australian Rugby League Commission also approved a number of new reforms to the rules for the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership, which were seen as important announcements for the game to develop in Australia. The rule changes included:
- A reduction of the scrum clock from 35 to 30 seconds
- A reduction of the drop-out clock from 30 to 25 seconds
- An increase to dangerous contact neck or head charges. Grade 2 has increased to 300 points, Grade 3 to 500 and Grade 1 will remain at 100 points.
- Any player sent to the sin bin or sent off with be required to run from the field of play, taking the most direct route to the dressing room. Failure to comply with this rule with lead to clubs being breached and fined under NRL rules and/or offending players may be charged with Contrary Conduct under the NRL Judiciary Code.
- Allowing the Judiciary Panel to find a player guilty of an alternative charge when charged with a shoulder charge
- No changes would be made to the number of interchanges for 2019, pending further assessment later on in the season.