Rochdale Hornets coach Alan Kilshaw has called on the RFL to address their flawed disciplinary procedures.
Kilshaw believes that the current system is not fit for purpose and is having an adverse effect on part-time clubs who are taking time out of their limited training sessions to attend hearings.
Under the current regime, coaches and players can miss an entire evening of training to attend a hearing, despite the fact some clubs only have the opportunity to practice together twice per week.
Additionally, players are required to be at the RFL’s base at Red Hall in Leeds by five o’clock, despite the fact many of them have full-time jobs outside of the sport.
The Hornets chief is adamant that the RFL must change the current system to support part-time clubs.
“There needs be a couple of changes that could help the part-time teams,” he said.
“The main one is that they hold disciplinary on a Tuesday night. That’s great for Super League teams, but for Championship and League 1 clubs, 95% of them train on a Tuesday evening.
“Super League takes priority too, so you could get there for five o’clock, but if the Super League hearing is running late you can be waiting around for hours before your case gets heard.
“Time is so precious at this level, but the head coach and assistant coach can go to Red Hall for two or three hours for a hearing. It’s going to have a knock-on effect during the rest of the week, especially in the season when you’re doing a video review on Tuesday.
“You can sometimes end up sending the chairman or the CEO and they know the game, but if you get into the technicalities of a tackle, they aren’t going to be as knowledgeable as the coaches who are paid to do that job.
“I know they’re putting a panel together to look at things, and that’s something that needs to be addressed. Look at having it on an alternate day to Super League clubs, that would really have a good impact on part-time teams.”
Kilshaw also cited the issue surrounding the location of the hearings in Leeds.
“For the North West sides, that is a hell of a trek on a Tuesday night, especially when some of the players work nine to five,” he said.
“We have things like Skype. It’s the 21st Century after all. I’m sure they could do it that way to make it appropriate.
“They have offices in Manchester, so why can’t we have one hub at Media City and another in Leeds? I know there are financial implications, but there are loads of implications for the club and if a player is wrongly suspended.
“We’ve had cases when there are no Super League players up, so you’re first up at five on a Tuesday, but you have players and staff that work jobs. Our chairman even has his own business to run. I appreciate the job they have is hard, but I think it could be made a little easier for the clubs and they’d get less grievance from the clubs.”
Kilshaw’s frustrations go deeper than just that.
The Hornets coach believes part-time players need more financial protection from the system, with some players receiving substantial fines that take up large parts of their wage. Kilshaw believes the fines are disproportionate to the salaries players are being paid.
“I’d actually look at the contract and fine them a percentage of what they earned for the game. We had a lad last year on pay-as-you-play. He got charged for a spear tackle and got fined £100 quid. Academy players get fined as well and some won’t be on any money.”
Like many others coaches, Kilshaw also bemoaned the inconsistencies it the early stages of charging a player, describing the process as ‘inconsistent’.
“Below Super League, it’s very inconsistent.
“They’ll only look at incidents that get cited or if they just happen to be watching that game as the ref’s coach will watch certain games. It has to be consistent.
“For example, Leigh played Toulouse in the Challenge Cup last year, there was a really bad spear tackle by a Toulouse player and it didn’t go on report, but Leigh didn’t cite it as they weren’t playing them again. It was one of the worst I’d seen all year but he got no punishment. It’s so inconsistent.”