Operational Rules

Section B2: Match Day Rules


B2:1 Each Club shall ensure that none of its Players or Officials engages in a brawl. A brawl is defined as a total of two or more Players or Officials from a team being involved in an incident of fighting or aggressive physical contact on the pitch and surrounding areas before, during or after a Match.

B2:2 Each Club shall ensure that none of its Players or Officials engage in behaviour which constitutes harassment or attempted physical intimidation of a Match Official whether by language, confrontational manner or other means whether before, during or after a Match or at any other time.

B2:3 For the avoidance of doubt a charge under Operational Rules B2:1 or B2:2 shall not exclude action being taken against the individual Player(s) or Officials either under Section D1 or D2 of these Rules.


B2:4 It shall be up to the Match Commissioner (or Referee where a Match Commissioner is not appointed) to determine as to whether or not a Match should be abandoned. However:

  1. if a Match is abandoned, the Board will determine whether the result shall stand. If it does not stand the Match will be re-scheduled as directed by the Board. The decision of the Board in relation to such matters shall be final;
  2. upon the abandonment of a Match for any reason before or during the half time interval which is subsequently declared to be void, spectators who attended the abandoned League Match shall be entitled to admission for the next playing of the Match at half price;
  3. upon the abandonment of a Match for any reason in the second half, no concession will apply to the re-arranged Match;
  4. in relation to a Cup Tie: (i) the Board declares that the result shall stand, then the division of proceeds shall be as set out in Operational Rules Section A3 as appropriate; and (ii) if the Board decide that the result shall not stand, then the proceeds of that Match and of the replaying of the same shall be aggregated and the division of proceeds as provided in the Operational Rules shall apply but the away team shall be entitled to claim its abortive travelling expenses to the voided Match;
  5. if any Play Off Match is abandoned, then the division of proceeds for the re-arranged Match shall be made in accordance with such directions as the Board may give from time to time;
  6. the Board shall have the power to vary these arrangements if it is deemed necessary to do so.




In the event that the home Club suspects that its Ground will not be fit for play owing to frost or any other cause, the home Club must immediately call an Inspector who is on a list approved by the RFL to carry out ground inspections ("the Inspector") to inspect the Ground. If the Inspector states the Ground is not fit for play and in his opinion, there is no chance of it being so fit for kick-off, then the match should be postponed and that decision must be communicated to the visiting Club, the RFL and to the media immediately. It is unlikely that a decision under this Rule can be made more than 24 hours before the Match is due to kick off save in exceptional circumstances.

If, having made such inspection, the Inspector says there is a doubt as to the fitness of the Ground but is not certain that it will be unfit, the home Club must immediately advise the visiting Club and the RFL of the position and the appointed Match Commissioner (or if no Match Commissioner is appointed, the match Referee) must be called to inspect the Ground. In such event, the Match Commissioner (Referee) shall arrive not less than 2½ hours before the advertised time for kick-off.

The competing Clubs shall not place the Match Commissioner (Referee) under any undue or adverse pressure whilst he is making such a decision, and the Match Commissioner (Referee) shall consult with the Ground Safety Officer and where appropriate the RFL Broadcast Partner prior to reaching his decision. The decision should be immediately communicated to the RFL, the competing Clubs, the spectators and the media.



The Ground Safety Officer is responsible for safety of the ground and spectators on the day and ultimately any decisions on evacuation and crowd safety will be made by the Ground Safety Officer unless the emergency is such that he hands over control and ultimate responsibility to the Police Match Commander. The Match Commissioner is responsible for the safety of the players and the reputation of the game. There may be some circumstances where these two conflict or where player safety or the reputation of the game are at risk so that the game should be abandoned although there is no risk to spectator safety. In such circumstances the Match Commissioner must liaise with the Ground Safety Officer and Best Endeavours should be used by both to reach an agreed position. However ultimately there will be some extreme circumstances where the Match Commissioner’s duty to the players and the Game would lead to the Match Commissioner ordering the players to leave the field of play. At RFL centrally organised events the Match Commissioner will follow the procedures set out by the Match Manager.

In line with principles above the following:

The Match Commissioner (Referee) shall have the power to:

  1. postpone a match before kick off;
  2. delay a scheduled kick off;
  3. suspend a match in progress;
  4. abandon a Match after kick off;

when any of, but not limited to, the following situations arise:

  1. He receives the advice of the duly appointed Ground Safety Officer (GSO) on the day that the GSO believes it is impossible to start or continue the match without compromising spectator safety;
  2. He receives the advice of the duly appointed GSO that the GSO believes that the match kick off should be delayed or the match in progress should be suspended on the grounds of public order and/or spectator safety;
  3. He believes at the time of inspection that the condition of the pitch is such that it is unfit for play and remains unfit for play (unfit for play means that it is not safe for the players to play on the pitch eg ruts or frost) after such alterations and/or improvements as he may order have been made to either the playing surface or the surrounding area or subsequently that the weather conditions are such that it is unsafe for the players to take or remain on the field of play eg electric storm;
  4. One of the competing teams is reduced to four players due to injuries and/or dismissals;
  5. The behaviour of the players or the crowd is such that the Referee can no longer control the Match;
  6. There is Unacceptable Behaviour from the crowd which cannot be brought under control by the GSO and stewards/police;
  7. Fog descends or thickens while a Match is in progress to the extent that if the referee takes up a position on the centre of the 20m line he cannot clearly see the corner flags at the opposite end of the pitch;
  8. Before or during the Match fog is such that the spectators and/or the Broadcast Partner (where the match is being transmitted live) cannot see the pitch from a reasonable viewing position as advised by the GSO; If fog descends or thickens during the Match, the Match Commissioner shall liaise with the GSO and if they are both of the opinion that a significant number of spectators cannot see the playing area, that it is not possible to move those spectators to a closer vantage point, that safety monitoring and supervision of spectators cannot be sustained as advised by the GSO, that the safety of spectators would not be put at risk by an abandonment, then the Match Commissioner should decide that the Match should be abandoned and should signal to the Referee and inform him that the Match shall be abandoned.
  9. A player dies on the field of play;
  10. There is floodlight failure and the Ground Safety Officer advises that power cannot be restored within a reasonable period of time taking into account all the circumstances;
  11. A Team Doctor or the Match Doctor fails to attend and a replacement cannot be found within a reasonable period of time;
  12. There are other circumstances which lead the Match Commissioner (Referee) acting reasonably to believe that the only option available to him is to postpone, suspend or abandon the Match.


B2:7 The RFL shall produce a Match Day Operations Manual, updated on an annual basis, which shall include the operating standards and protocols which apply to Persons Subject to the Operational Rules on match days. A breach of the Match Day Operations Manual shall be Misconduct.