Case Number:

RLWC21/191

Angus Crichton #17, Australia

Competition:

Men's Rugby League World Cup

Match:

Australia v New Zealand

Match Date:

2022-11-19

Incident:

Use of elbow/forearm – off the ball

Decision:

Charge

Charge Detail:

Law 15.1 (a) Strikes - Strikes with elbow/forearm – off ball – reckless Grade B

Sanctions:

2 Match Penalty Notice

Decision On Charge

Player plea:

Guilty but challenge grading

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

Following a Match Review Panel meeting held on 20 November 2022, you are charged with misconduct for a breach of Law 15.1(a) – “Trips, kicks or strikes another player” 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 01:02:38 of the above Match. In the Panel’s opinion you struck your opponent off the ball with your forearm, elbow area. The Panel believed that your actions were contrary to the true spirit of the game and had the potential to cause your opponent injury. Charge In accordance with the RLWC2021 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines, the Panel consider that such offence is a Grade B offence – Strikes - Strikes with elbow/forearm – off ball – reckless Notice of Charge 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 2 Matches. • The Match Review Panel reviewed an incident which occurred at 01:02:38 Opta time (48th minute of the match). • Panel decided the player struck his opponent to the head/face with his elbow/forearm. • Against the true spirit of the game and caused injury to the opponent. • Charged under Law 15.1(a) Trips, kicks or strikes another player - Strikes - Strikes with elbow/forearm – off ball – reckless- Grade range B-D. • Player runs laterally, passes the ball which is dropped and player regathers it - is carrying the ball in his left arm with a raised/lifted right arm – the non-ball carrying arm. • Player is looking directly at the opponent and lifts and projects the right arm towards the opponent - is aware or should be aware of where the opponent’s head is. • Dangerous act of projecting the right arm towards opponent’s head (a fragile area) whilst opponent is in a vulnerable and exposed position. • The position in which the player approached opponent with raised arm meant he could only hit the head. • Trajectory of player’s arm is clearly above the opponent’s shoulder and the arm is almost horizontal at the bend in the elbow to the hand. Unnatural position/movement. • Considerable contact to the right side of the opponent’s face/head. • Opponent immediately falls to the floor knocked out, indicating that considerable contact has been made. • Head and neck heavily protected in the sport. • Section 1.2 of RLWC21 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines - The disciplinary system is not intended to sanitise the sport, however there is no place in the game for players who jeopardise the safety of others by intentional, dangerous [emphasis added] or malicious acts. • Definition of Recklessness at 8.2.2 of RLWC21 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines satisfied – “obvious risk”. • Burden and Standard of Proof pursuant to Section 3.3 of RLWC21 On Field Compliance Procedures and Sentencing Guidelines satisfied. • Opponent leaves the field of play and does not return. • Graded at B, lowest level for this particular charge. • Player received a 2-match penalty notice – lowest end of this striking charge.

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

Player not in attendance, however, represented by Mal Meninga (Head Coach) and Troy Thomson (Team Manager). MM informed the hearing that he felt the charge was disproportionate especially when compared to other charges that had previously occurred. He felt that the actions of the player were careless and not reckless, and that the player had actually stopped playing after the Referee had blown his whistle, where as the opponent had carried on. The player raised his arm to protect himself and his movements were reactionary with his arm never going above shoulder height. The player did not generate any force and actually moved backwards on impact as the opponent carried on with play after the whistle had gone.

Decision:

Guilty plea

Decision On Sanction (where found to have committed Misconduct)

Decision:

Decision pending...

Reasons for Decision:

The Tribunal have heard submissions from Mr Wild on behalf of the MRP and Mr Meninga on behalf of the player. The Tribunal has also had the advantage of seeing the footage on numerous occasions. The Tribunal come to the conclusion that the actions of the player were not reckless but they were careless. The Tribunal reached that conclusion because there was an element of self-preservation by the player as the opponent ran towards him after the whistle had blown. Much of the force from the contact came from the opponent running at the player. Whilst we agree that the player did raise his forearm, he did not raise his forearm above the level of his own head. Unfortunately, there was contact with the head of the opponent but that was due to him losing height as he was about to make contact. The crucial features of the contact are that the player reacted at the last second in circumstances in which he was entitled to assume that there would not be any contact because the whistle had blown. Having regard to the above we reach the conclusion that the actions of the player were careless rather than reckless. Accordingly, the offence is re-graded from A to D (Other Striking Offences). In those circumstances the Tribunal reach the conclusion that the most appropriate punishment is a one-match suspension rather than a two-match suspension as submitted by the Match Review Panel.

Suspension:

1 match

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