Case Number:

RLWC21/50

Jaimin Jolliffe #10, Ireland

Competition:

Men's Rugby League World Cup

Match:

Lebanon v Ireland

Match Date:

2022-10-23

Incident:

High Tackle

Decision:

Charge

Charge Detail:

Law 15.1 (i) High Tackle – Reckless – tried to tackle but reckless about outcome Grade A

Fine:

N/A

Sanctions:

1 Match Penalty Notice

Decision On Charge

Player plea:

Not guilty

Summary of CM's submissions on the Charge / evidence:

Following a Match Review Panel meeting held on 24 October 2022, you are charged with misconduct for a breach of Law 15.1(b) – When tackling or attempting to tackle makes contact with the head or neck of an opponent of the RLWC2021 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines (a copy of which are attached to this letter) during the above Match. The Panel reviewed an incident which occurred in approximately the Opta Time 28 29 of the above Match. The incident was placed on report by the match referee. In the Panel’s opinion you made reckless contact with the head/neck of your opponent with your shoulder/upper arm. The Panel believed that your actions were contrary to the true spirit of the game and had the potential to cause your opponent injury. In accordance with the RLWC2021 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines, the Panel consider that such offence is a Grade A offence – High Tackle – Reckless - Reckless – tried to tackle but reckless about outcome In accordance with RLWC2021 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines, the Match Review Panel consider that this matter should be dealt with by way of a Notice of Charge. As such, the appropriate sanction is determined with reference to Section 7.1 of the RLWC2021 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines under which the Normal Suspension Imposed for this offence is 1 Match. Referee concerned placed on report • Incident is placed on report. • Opponent is returning the ball following a penalty restart. • Player comes out of the line at speed prior to contact. • Contact is initial to the opponent’s head with the shoulder/upper arm of Mr Jolliffe. • This is evident on the footage as the head goes backwards upon impact and does not come forward which would be the case if contact was initially with the shoulder/upper body of the opponent. • Mr Joliffe is high coming into contact with the opponent. • The opponent is not at an unreasonable height going into contact. • It is accepted that Mr Jolliffe is attempting to complete a tackle. • The player has time to ensure he does not make contact with the opponent’s head. No adaptions are made in this regard. • Actions are unnecessary and avoidable. • The contact is forceful. • Potential for serious injury. Opponent leaves the field for a Head Injury Assessment upon further assessment and does not return. Players have a duty of care, and the technique used carried an unacceptable risk of injury. Not stated that it is intentional act, however alternative methods were available to the player. MRP believe contact was reckless and unnecessary and made contact with the head/neck of opponent. MRP are satisfied this action meets the definition of reckless. Evidence is clear from the footage provided that initial contact was with neck/head of the opposition player. MRP disagree with the points put forward by the Ireland team. The Panel are invited to review the definition of recklessness. It is the responsibility of the player to ensure contact with the head/neck is not made. The reaction of the tackled player is not relevant as players can and will react in different ways. The MRP reiterate the nature of contact was unnecessary and other options were available.

Summary of Player's submissions on the Charge / evidence:

Player (JJ) is present with Joe O’Callaghan (JO) Assistant Coach. JO opens with recognising the work of the MRP during the tournament, and appreciate the time and effort put in. They state they have taken a common-sense approach to this appeal. In total they received 3 charges from this match. They agreed with the MRP on the 2 charges not challenged, but in this case believe player is not guilty. Stills are shown of the challenge. Put forward it is difficult to agree without any doubt that JJ foresees the tackle will make contact with head/neck of opposing player. Situation is a static start from a tap, JJ expects Lebanon player to run forward with force, his intention is that his line speed matches. JJ keeps his feet underneath at all times, and at no stage does he leave the ground. Put forward that JJ bends his knee in order to hit target zone, his intent is to tackle across the chest and stop the momentum and make sure ball is locked up. At all times he has vision of the player, and uses a shortened stride to make sure control is there, his lead leg is through centre of opposing players body to stop momentum of player. JJ does not lead with shoulder only, he uses wrapping motion with arm to lock up the ball carrier. At full speed appears contact with head/neck area, however stills show arm across makes contact with shoulder, red jersey of opponent can be seen above his arm. Shoulder makes no contact with the opponents head at any stage. JJ has played 160 games of semi/professional Rugby League and has never been found guilty of a similar offence previously. This is not part of his DNA, which supports his tackle technique and thought process. It is acknowledged that collision causes concussion. Submitted that the concussion was caused by the collision, not by head/neck contact. Concussion can occur from a fall/blow/collision to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. In this case the Lebanon players stops and braces for contact, something JJ did not expect. Videos shown indicate head moves slightly forward and sideways, before moving to whiplash motion. Video shown, Ireland are not challenging the fact the player was concussed. This however is not the charge faced, the charge is that the tackle was reckless with initial contact to head/neck are. JJ is sorry that concussion has occurred, but reiterated this is due to the collision not the impact with the head/neck. If the opposing player had been hit in the head/neck put forward that player would react by touching either his head or neck after the impact. This did not happen on this occasion as can be seen from the video. The referee report states JJ made high contact with the opponent whilst making tackle. As can be seen from the video after contact is made 6 seconds pass until the game is stopped. Put forward why a penalty was not called, or 6 seconds were allowed to pass before the game was halted. Game was only halted following reaction of Lebanon players. Referee signals tackle was across shoulders, and this can be heard on the audio. In summary it is their view that conclusive evidence has been provided that the tackle should not be defined as reckless. On the balance of probability, we believe the injury sustained was caused by collision by whiplash and not through direct contact to head/neck area. Player is remorseful that a concussion has occurred. Evidence presented that there is a forward sidewards motion first before the players head moves back. Finally, the on-field referee both verbally and through hand signals that the tackle did not make contact with head/neck area. Not satisfied there is proven contact with the head/neck area. Do not believe the footage shows a high level of probability of contact with the head/neck area. Do not believe the tackle meets the definition of reckless.

Decision:

Guilty – 1 match penalty notice upheld

Reasons for Decision:

This is a charge brought by the MRP arising out of the match on 23rd October between Lebanon and Ireland. The incident occurred in 29th minute of the match. At this point in the match the charged player JJ went into a tackle, the result of which this charge was brought. The Panel remind themselves of the burden placed on the MRP to prove the charge, and the standard of proof being that of comfortable satisfaction. The charge made was that when making the tackle contact was made with the head/neck of the opponent and that this was reckless. The first element to consider was, is contact made with the head/neck of the opponent, the second was whether this contact was reckless. On the first point, it appears that there is no body dip from JJ into the contact with the opposing player, in other words he didn’t bend his back in any way. It is accepted the reasoning for initial line speed shown by JJ, but the Panel find there was no adjustment for the fact that the Lebanese player stops in order to effectively avoid making contact with the head/neck area. The Panel are satisfied that initial contact was with the shoulder, but are also satisfied having viewed footage several times, the upper arm then went from the shoulder area to the head, and find that there was contact with the head and upper arm of JJ. The Panel considered the point made about the opposing players head moving forward first and then backwards, however this may have happened due to initial contact being with the crook of the arm, the upper arm/shoulder however follows through and makes contact with jaw/cheek are. The Panel considered whether this was avoidable, and they find that the Player was aware of the potential for contact with the head/neck area and took that risk. This risk resulted in injury to the opposing player. The Panel are satisfied the tackle was reckless and that there was contact with the head. The initial 1 match penalty notice is therefore upheld and the appeal is unsuccessful. The Panel put forward they were impressed by presentation given by Ireland and are grateful for their measured approach and submissions.

Decision On Sanction (where found to have committed Misconduct)

Decision:

Decision pending...

Suspension:

1 match penalty notice upheld

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