THREE notable new members have been appointed to rugby league’s Match Review Panel and Operational Rules Tribunal.
After discussions in the off-season, Director of Legal and Operations at the Rugby Football League (RFL), Robert Hicks, has announced that Rebecca Stevens (ORT), Steve Presley and Jerome Guisset (both MRP) will join the entities in 2023.
Stevens is a former Great Britain star whilst Presley officiated over 200 games between 1993 and 2003. Of course, almost all rugby league fans will remember Jerome Guisset from his time playing with the Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons during the 2000s.
Hicks identified all three as bringing something new and diverse to both the ORT and MRP.
“We have recruited some additional members to the panels to improve the diversity of thought across those. The most notable person is Rebecca Stevens who is a former Great Britain Lioness who toured in the late 90s and early 2000s and who will sit on the Operational Rules Tribunal,” Hicks said.
“She is also a qualified barrister, she will be a beneficial appointment in the ORT.
“Meanwhile, the Match Review Panel had a lack of officiating knowledge within it. Steve Presley is a former player and Super League referee, he recently worked with the match officials whilst Jerome Guisset really brings an air of modernity being the most recently retired player.”
The new system of a fine for a Grade A charge and a ban or a fine for a Grade B charge has already been seen in pre-season friendlies so far this year.
“It’s already had an effect, James Donaldson was charged with a Grade B offence and he got one match and a fine whereas last year he would have been given a two-match ban,” Hicks continued.
“We also saw a significant reduction in a number of top-end charges for late and high tackles. We were seeing more careless tackles, but it’s a contact sport played at high speed which needs to be remembered.”