Operational Rules

Section B1: General Competition Rules


B1:1 Each Club shall ensure that all Matches in which it participates (at any level or age group) shall be played in accordance with the rules of the relevant league, competition or tournament and the Laws of the Game.


B1:2 No Club shall refuse the RFL, RLEF or RLIF the use of its ground or social, refreshment, and car parking facilities (except for reasons beyond its reasonable control) for matches which the Board deems to be of major importance. These matches include but are not limited to Representative Matches, Cup and League finals and other Cup competitions, and Cup semi-finals, at all levels under the Board's jurisdiction.

B1:3 Where a match between Clubs is played on a neutral ground or otherwise organised by the RFL or SLE the RFL/SLE Events Department shall provide documentation detailing the arrangements and the competing Clubs shall comply with such arrangements.


B1:4 No Club shall be allowed to play any Match or allow its ground to be used for any Match if in the opinion of the Board such act will be likely to adversely affect the gate of any other Match played under the Operational Rules.


B1:5 Subject to Definitions (eee) above the Board shall determine the date of commencement of the Season and the date on which it shall cease.


B1:6 The principle purpose of the RFL’s rules on “Full Strength” teams is to ensure:

  1. the integrity of each Match and the Game in general;
  2. a level playing field throughout a competition; and that
  3. no team gains an unfair advantage or disadvantage.

It is each team’s responsibility to ensure that it has a squad of players sufficient to meet its obligations in all competitions.

B1:7 Clubs, officials, coaches and players must not at any time make comments that bring the game into disrepute by inferring that any Club is not making its best efforts to win the match.



  1. No later than 1 October prior to the commencement of each Season, each Super League Club shall notify the Board in writing of the names of up to 25 players who shall constitute that Club's provisional first team squad for that Season ("the Provisional First Team Squad"). Each Super League Club shall notify the Board immediately of any changes to this Provisional First Team Squad. No later than 1 February, or no later than fourteen days prior to the commencement of the Season if earlier, each Super League Club shall notify the Board in writing of the squad (“First Team Squad”) numbers of those 25 players who will then become the Clubs First Team Squad and only members of that First Team Squad shall be entitled to play for that Club’s first team in League and/or Cup matches. The Board shall ensure that its Performance Department monitors use of players by all Clubs.
  2. No later than 48 hours before the first training session prior to the commencement of each Season each Championships Club shall provide the RFL with a list of the names of the players who will be training with the Club (the “In Training Squad”) and shall continue to inform the RFL of any additions to or deletions from that list. Any correctly registered player will be automatically added to the In Training Squad.

B1:9 Super League Clubs may with the approval of the Board, replace injured or ill players or players transferred to other Clubs or who have ceased playing the Game, alter the constituent members of their First Team Squad during a Season and all such changes shall be notified in writing to, and shall be subject to the approval of, the Board. In addition Super League Clubs shall be able to apply for dispensation to replace a member of their First Team Squad with a Player that the Club believes is of a higher standard than the Player he replaces.

B1:10 Super League Clubs shall be entitled to select and play any eligible player from their First Team Squad from time to time for any Match.

B1:11 Championship Clubs shall be entitled to select and play any eligible Player from the In Training List.


B1:12 The purpose behind the “Home Grown Player” Rule is:

  1. to encourage Clubs to develop and better develop their own players so that there are more players coming into the game and so that the standard improves; and
  2. to afford an opportunity to junior players to play in top level competitive matches in order to aid their development and ensure the development of the sport.

Definitions. “Federation” means the RLEF;


At the time of notification in any season of the Provisional First Team Squad and First Team Squad and following any amendments during the season, a Club’s First Team Squad, where that Club is in Super League, must consist of:

  1. a maximum of 7 players who satisfy none of the definitions of Club Trained, Federation Trained or are working towards either classification.
  2. a minimum of 7 Club Trained Players or Academy Juniors working towards that classification.
  3. the remainder being made up of Club Trained, Federation Trained Players or Academy Juniors working towards either classification.

B1:12B The following definitions shall apply to Clause B1:12A above:

  1. ‘Club Trained Player’: a player who has been on the Club’s register for any 3 full Seasons before the end of the Season in which he ceases to be eligible by age to play at Under 21 level. For the avoidance of doubt, from the 2010 Season onwards a player must satisfy the requirement to have been on the Club’s register for 3 full Seasons before being ineligible to play at Under 21 level in order to qualify as a ‘Club Trained Player’ and the fact that he may have qualified as a ‘Club Trained Player’ in the 2008 and/or 2009 Seasons shall be irrelevant.
  2. ‘Federation Trained Player’: a player who, for any 3 full Seasons [before the end of the Season in which he ceases to be eligible by age to play at Under 21 level has been on one of the Club’s register or the register of another Club being a member of the same rugby league Federation. For the avoidance of doubt if a player moves from one Club’s register to another Club’s register and there is a period of no more than 28 days in the Season (as defined) and any amount of the period between the 1 December and the day of the first League Match, Representative Match or Cup Tie (whichever is sooner) between being removed from one register and being registered with another Club, consecutively shall not be broken for the purposes of this clause. In addition a Club may apply for a Player who has been granted New Talent Pool status by the RSCM (see E1:5.12 below) to be granted Federation Trained status.
  3. ‘Academy Junior’: a player who is eligible by age to play at Under 21 level and who is on the Club’s Register.

B1:13 In the event that because of an injury or illness crisis or for any other reason, a Club wishes to utilise players other than members of their First Team Squad (including but not limited to junior or loan players), the Club concerned must first produce written medical evidence to the Performance Department verifying the injuries sustained by First Team Squad players to the reasonable satisfaction of the Board. In any event any player utilised in such circumstances must be of Super League or Championships standard (as appropriate) as determined by the Performance Department. Further in order to utilise such a player, the Club must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the RFL that they will comply with the “Club Trained” Rule set out in this section.

B1:14 Subject to the presumption that the Board would take into account the potential views of and impact on other Clubs within the same league or division, the Board shall be given the discretion to grant to a Club or Clubs an exemption or variance of the maximum and minimum in particular categories of the ‘Club Trained Player’ Rule where in the Board’s absolute discretion the circumstances justify such an exemption or variance. The burden of establishing such circumstances is strictly on the individual Club.

B1:15 The Board shall have the discretion to declare that a Player qualifies as a ‘Club Trained Player’ or a ‘Federation Trained Player’ notwithstanding that the player does not satisfy strictly the definition where in the Board’s absolute discretion the Board is satisfied that the player satisfies the spirit of the definition or considers that in view of the circumstances relevant to that case it is appropriate to declare that a Player qualifies as a ‘Club Trained Player’ or a ‘Federation Trained Player’ and in particular shall take into account in relation to ‘Federation Trained Player’ any time registered with a Member Club of a member organisation of the relevant Federation, and in relation to ‘Club Trained Player’ time registered on loan with a Member Club of the relevant Federation or a Member Club of a member organisation of the relevant Federation. The burden of establishing such circumstances is strictly on the individual player.


B1:16 The principal purpose of the Squad Declaration System is to ensure that there is transparency and integrity in team selection and that there is no opportunity for those connected with a Club to profit from insider information. Clubs, officials and coaches shall comply with the Squad Declaration System as directed by the RFL from time to time in the Match Day Operations Manual. Failure to comply may be a breach of the Operational Rules.


B1:17 In case of postponement of a Match, the Match shall, if the Clubs involved and the RFL so agree or the RFL so directs, be re-arranged for the following Mid-Week ("the preferred Mid-Week"). If, however, at the time of postponement both Clubs have a known free Weekend date prior to the scheduled end of the appropriate competition, the Clubs involved may agree that such Match shall be arranged for that free Weekend instead of the preferred Mid-Week subject always to Board approval. Weekend dates on Cup Tie weekends or weekends allocated for other competitions can be regarded as free only if at the time of the postponement, both Clubs concerned have been dismissed from the Cup or other competitions concerned.

B1:18 In any event, when considering whether to approve a re-arranged date, the Board will consider each Club’s schedule of Weekend and Mid-Week matches and any other relevant factors before reaching its decision.
Where one Club does not wish to play the Match on the date scheduled by following the procedure above then both Clubs shall promptly make full written submissions to the Board which shall determine the date on which the Match shall be played.
If the Clubs agree to play the Match on any date other than a date determined in accordance with the preceding provisions of this Operational Rule B1:17 then both Clubs shall promptly make written submissions to the Board which shall agree thereto or determine the date on which such postponed Match shall be played taking into account all relevant circumstances known to it.
Notwithstanding the above the Board in its absolute discretion may order a match to be re-arranged as it, acting reasonably, thinks fit in the circumstances.

B1:19 If a Match cannot go ahead as scheduled or in the case of a further postponement or in the case of a dispute, the Board will decide when and where the Match will be played.

B1:20 Any Club refusing to play on the published date or any re-arranged date ordered by the Board unless the Inspector, Match Commissioner or appointed referee has stated that the ground is unfit for play shall be guilty of Misconduct and shall be punishable by way of fine or otherwise pursuant to Section D1 of these Operational Rules. The Board shall decide whether the Club refusing to play shall forfeit the Match and if so whether the points shall be awarded to its opponent or whether the Match shall be replayed, and if it is to be replayed the Board shall determine the venue, date and kick off.

B1:21 The RFL may publish further protocols on postponements and Clubs shall comply with these protocols issued by the RFL from time to time.


B1:22 The RFL shall publish directives showing the sizes, numbers and positions of the sponsors’ logos which Clubs shall be allowed to display on playing strip.
Each Club shall:

  1. Submit a detailed kit manufacturers design specification to the Board for approval each year, no later than 31 October for Super League and 30 November for Championships Clubs. The specification shall include full details of principal and alternative playing strip including shirts, shorts and socks, pantone reference numbers and dimensions of all logos.
  2. Ensure that the designs including logos submitted comply with the following:
  3. (i) the broadcasting and other contract(s), Codes of Conduct and laws which apply to the Competitions and countries in which the Club will play and that no offensive material is included;
  4. (ii) the alternative strip shall have a different base colour to the principal kit;
  5. (iii) the colour or design shall not be the same or similar to the strips worn by the Match Officials;
  6. (iv) provide sufficient the kit including logos shall comply with the Code of Conduct which applies to the Competition in which it plays;
  7. (v) will distinguish any two teams in the same competition sufficiently for the purposes of the Match Officials distinguishing between the two teams;
  8. (vi) that the numbers are no less than 23cm in height, clearly visible and stand out from the surrounding background which may necessitate placing the number on a patch.
  9. Ensure that it does not commit to or start manufacturing the kit until it has received official notification from the RFL Operations Department that the kit has been approved and that no changes are made from the kit specification which has been approved.
  10. Provide the RFL with one full principal and one full alternative kit immediately such kit is received from the manufacturer. Should a kit differ from the kit for which approval has been granted the Club may be ordered to have it remanufactured to the specification which has been approved.

In deciding whether to approve a kit the RFL shall take into account whether the principal and alternative kit meet B1:22(b) (i) to (vi) above. The RFL may instruct that a Club has two different coloured pairs of shorts or socks to go with a principal or alternative strip. In order to reach its decision the RFL may require a manufacturer to provide a swatch of the exact colours which will be used in the kit.
The RFL will decide on approval of kits in the order received, however in reaching its decision it may take into account the traditional colours of another Club, notwithstanding the above if a kit is received after other kits it may be refused if kits already received mean that it will not distinguish between teams sufficiently.
The RFL may order a Club, or a Club may request permission, to produce a third playing kit in any one season.


B1:23 Clubs may apply for permission to wear “testimonial” kits as part of the fund raising for a Player’s testimonial, such kits must be submitted to the RFL for approval prior to entering production. Kits approved under this Operational Rule may only be worn in pre season warm up games.



  1. Super League Clubs shall, at least 7 days before the commencement of each Season, allocate a different shirt number to each member of its first team squad (see B1:8 above). The Club shall also allocate a number to any player joining the squad during the Season. Such numbers shall begin at 1 and be allocated consecutively. A Club shall not change a player's number during a Season. If a player leaves a Club during a season, then this number may not be re-allocated to a new first team squad member until the next Season.
  2. Championships Clubs shall, at least 7 days before the commencement of each Season, allocate a different shirt number to players 1-25 of its first team squad. For players 1-25 the Rules in B1:24(a) above shall apply. Clubs shall also allocate a number to any player joining the squad during the season however numbers 26 onwards may be re-allocated to new squad members or other players (other than those issued numbers 1-25) as the club thinks fit and may be used more than once in any particular season with the proviso that the lowest number available at any time will be used prior to any higher number.


B1:25 The RFL will provide kit directives detailing which kit each team and the match officials shall wear at each Match (other than rounds of the Challenge Cup prior to Round 4) and each Club shall comply with such directives. In general the home team will wear its principal kit and the away team shall be directed to wear the kit which best distinguishes the two teams. In both cases this may include the RFL directing that alternative shorts and or socks are worn. Where otherwise unavoidable a home team may be instructed to wear its alternative kit at home.

B1:26 Notwithstanding the provisions of B1:25 above, where the Colours of the visiting Club clash with that of the home Club (and the Match Commissioner shall be the final arbiter of this), the visiting Club must change into such alternative strip or parts of strip as the Match Commissioner may direct. To ensure that this Rule can be complied with the visiting Club must bring two different sets of strip to the Match.


B1:27 Each Club agrees that Players, Officials and spectators are only allowed to take part in or attend Matches or otherwise be involved in the business of or the conduct of playing matters at any Member on condition that they observe the Operational Rules and each Club agrees to procure that these Operational Rules are enforced and observed by players, officials and spectators and are part of the contract between the Club and each spectator.


B1:28 Each Club shall comply with the Match Day Operations Manual and Sections D1 and D2 of these Rules.


B1:29 Clubs shall submit such information and complete such forms in the timescales and format as the Board shall reasonably specify from time to time.


B1:30 Each Club shall comply the mandatory sections of the RFL Medical Standards as published from time to time.


B1:31 The Board in its absolute discretion as it thinks fit shall determine any matter that may arise in connection with any Competition for which no provision has been made within these Operational Rules.