Section B1: General Competition Rules
LAWS OF THE GAME
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 Operational Rules and any applicable codes of conduct, regulations, rules and policies published by the RFL from to time (including, but not limited to, the Medical Standards) and the Laws of the Game. To the extent there is any conflict between the General Competition Rules (Section B1) or any other Operational Rules and any of the League Competition Rules (Section B3), the Challenge Cup Rules (Section B4), the League 1 Cup Competition Rules (Section B5) and the Player Development Programmes Rules (Section B7) then the specific Rules in Section B3, B4, B5 and B7 shall take precedence.
MATCHES ON NEUTRAL GROUNDS/USE OF FACILITIES
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 RFL'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 shall provide documentation detailing the arrangements and the competing Clubs shall comply with such arrangements.
SAFETY AND/OR MISCONDUCT AT GROUNDS
B1:4 Each Club is responsible for managing its Ground safely when it is open to the public and is required to comply with its legal obligations in this regard and to carry out risk assessments as appropriate, keep suitable records as appropriate and act in accordance with good practice as set out in the Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds (Green Guide). In addition each Club is required to use its Best Endeavours to take all precautions necessary to ensure that directors, players, officials, employees, representatives, spectators and all persons purporting to be supporters present at its Ground do not act unlawfully and to prevent any of the above from threatening, abusing or assaulting directors, officials, players, spectators, safety staff or any other person or damaging their property or the ground or any property, or invading the pitch or pitch surrounds or throwing missiles on the pitch or acting in a disorderly or improper manner before, during or after the conclusion of Matches or otherwise behaving in an unruly or unlawful manner or in a manner which is prejudicial to the Game or amounts to improper conduct.
B1:5 Each Club is responsible for the actions of its directors, players, officials, employees, representatives, spectators and all persons purporting to be its supporters and is required to use its Best Endeavours to take all precautions necessary to ensure that they do not act unlawfully and to prevent directors, players, officials, employees, representatives, spectators and all persons purporting to be its supporters from threatening, abusing or assaulting directors, officials, players, spectators, safety staff or any other person or damaging their property or the ground or any property, or invading the pitch or pitch surrounds or throwing missiles on the pitch or acting in a disorderly or improper manner either at its ground or at the ground of an opponent or at a neutral venue before, during or after the conclusion of Matches or otherwise behaving in an unruly or unlawful manner or in a manner which is prejudicial to the Game or amounts to improper conduct.
Each Club shall use its Best Endeavours to procure that at all times its players, staff, volunteers and officials (whether employed or contracted) do not engage in any Unacceptable Behaviour or Language, and that its spectators when at matches at any venue and all spectators at all Matches at its Ground do not engage in any Unacceptable Behaviour or Language and shall apply Zero Tolerance to any that do engage in Unacceptable Behaviour or Language and shall comply with the Tackle It programme and guidelines issued from time to time by the RFL. The Compliance Manager and the Operational Rules Tribunal shall apply Zero Tolerance when dealing with cases of Unacceptable Behaviour or Language
For the avoidance of doubt for the purposes of Operational Rules B1:4 – B1:6 where a Club employs or otherwise uses a stadium management company or other outside agency to manage its ground on match days, the Club remains responsible for any breaches of this Rule.
B1:7 The principle purpose of the RFL’s rules on “Full Strength” teams is to ensure:
- the integrity of each Match and the Game in general;
- a level playing field throughout a competition; and that
- no team gains an unfair advantage or disadvantage.
It is each Club’s responsibility to ensure that it has a squad of players sufficient to meet its obligations in all competitions.
B1:8 Each Club shall take all reasonable and permissible measures throughout each Match to ensure that its team gives its best efforts in an attempt to win the Match and/or of obtaining the best possible score in the Match. All Players and Officials shall take all reasonable and permissible measures and give their best efforts in an attempt to win each Match and/or of obtaining the best possible score in each Match.
B1:9 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 and/or did not make its best efforts to win any Match.
FIRST TEAM SQUAD – SUPER LEAGUE AND CHAMPIONSHIP
B1:10 No later than 1 November prior to the commencement of each Season, each Super League and Championship 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 and Championship Club shall notify the Board immediately of any changes to this Provisional First Team Squad. No later than 31 December prior to the commencement of the Season, each Super League and Championship Club shall notify the Board in writing of the squad (“First Team Squad”) numbers of those 25 players who will then become the Club’s First Team Squad and, subject to the provisions below, only members of that First Team Squad shall be entitled to play for that Club’s first team in League and/or Cup matches.
B1:11 Super League and Championship 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, 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 and Championship 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.
IN TRAINING SQUAD – LEAGUE 1
B1:12 No later than 48 hours before the first training session prior to the commencement of each Season each League 1 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.
B1:13 Championship 1 Clubs shall be entitled to select and play any eligible Player from their In Training List.
NON FEDERATION TRAINED – SUPER LEAGUE AND CHAMPIONSHIP CLUBS
B1:14 The purpose behind the “Home Grown Player” Rule is:
- 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
- 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.
B1:15 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 Super League or Championship Club’s First Team Squad must consist of a maximum of 7 players who are not either: (a) Federation Trained; or (b) Academy Juniors.
B1:16 The following definitions shall apply to Clause B1:15 above:
- 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 the Club’s register or the register of another Club which plays in competitions under the jurisdiction of a member of the RLEF. 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 under the Salary Cap Regulations to be granted Federation Trained status.
- ‘Academy Junior’: a player who is eligible by age to play at Under 21 level and who is on the Club’s Register.
B1:17 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 to Operational Rule B1:15 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.
B1:18 The Board shall have the discretion to declare that a Player qualifies as ‘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 ‘‘Federation Trained Player’ and in particular shall take into account any time registered with a Member Club of a member organisation of the relevant Federation. The burden of establishing such circumstances is strictly on the individual player.
SQUAD DECLARATION SYSTEM
B1:19 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.
FULFILMENT OF FIXTURES
B1:20 Any Club refusing to play a Match 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. 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.
B1:21 Matches shall only be postponed in accordance with the Operational Rules and the Match Day Operations Manual.
B1:22 In case of postponement of a Match, the following rules shall apply:
- 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 RFL 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.
- when considering whether to approve a re-arranged date, the RFL 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 RFL which shall determine the date on which the Match shall be played.
- Notwithstanding the above the RFL in its absolute discretion may order a match to be re-arranged as it, acting reasonably, thinks fit in the circumstances.
- If a Match cannot go ahead as scheduled or in the case of a further postponement or in the case of a dispute, the RFL will decide when and where the Match will be played.
B1:23 The RFL may publish further protocols on postponements and Clubs shall comply with these protocols issued by the RFL from time to time.
B1:24 Each Club shall comply with all directives issued by the RFL from time to time in relation to the sizes, numbers and positions of sponsors’ logos which Clubs shall be allowed to display on playing strip.
B1:25 Each Club shall:
- Submit a detailed kit manufacturer’s design specification to the Board for approval for each Season, no later than the preceding 31 October for Super League and Championship Clubs and 30 November for League 1Clubs. 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.
- Ensure that the designs including logos submitted comply with the following:
- the designs including logos submitted comply with 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;
- the alternative strip has a different base colour to the principal kit;
- 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.
- 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.
B1:26 In deciding whether to approve a kit the RFL shall take into account whether the principal and alternative kit meet B1:25(b) above. In addition the RFL will consider whether the proposed design is sufficiently different to the kit proposed to be worn by other teams in the same competition(s) and the match officials’ strips. 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.
B1:27 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.
B1:28 Each Club shall 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.
B1:29 The RFL may order a Club, or a Club may request permission, to produce a third playing kit in any one season.
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.
- Each Super League and Championship Club shall, at least 7 days before the commencement of each Season, allocate a different shirt number to each member of its First Team Squad. The Club shall also allocate a number to any Player joining the First Team 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 another Player until the next Season.
- League 1 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 B1:31(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.
B1:32 The RFL will provide kit directives detailing which kit each team and the match officials shall wear at each Match 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.
B1:33 Notwithstanding the provisions of B1:32 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 each Match.
SUBMISSION OF FORMS
B1:34 Clubs shall submit such information and complete such forms in the timescales and format as the Board shall reasonably specify from time to time.
B1:35 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.