The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) held its first meeting for 2020 in Sydney today and has agreed on two key outcomes:
- It has accepted advice from the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council (ARLIC) not to play the national anthem at the All Stars match on the Gold Coast.
- It has provisionally endorsed a new "Captain's Challenge" system to be implemented for the 2020 Telstra Premiership.
The Commission has agreed the All Stars match is an event unique to Indigenous Australians and the wishes of our players should be respected.
This decision was made after extensive consultation with senior members of our indigenous playing groups and members of ARLIC. This year's All Stars match on February 22 on the Gold Coast marks the 10-year anniversary of the event devised by former player Preston Campbell to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
ALRC Chairman Peter V'landys said it was an important role of the Commission to listen and consult with all players on issues that impact both the game and individuals.
"The All Stars game was created as a celebration of Indigenous players and their culture," Mr V'landys said.
"We have listened to our players' concerns that the words of the anthem do not represent them or their families and does not include an acknowledgement of First Nations people. We respect their wishes and have agreed that the anthem will not be played at the All Stars match on February 22."
The Commission was also updated on proposed rule changes for the 2020 Telstra Premiership season designed to bring further innovation and excitement to the game.
A new "Captain's Challenge" system was provisionally endorsed by the Commission and will now progress to discussions with clubs, players and broadcast partners before a final decision on implementation in the 2020 Telstra Premiership. The NRL will trial the Captain's Challenge rule change at the All Stars game on February 22 and the Charity Shield game in Mudgee between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons on February 29.
Under the proposed new rule, the captain will be the only player allowed to challenge a decision. Each club will have to nominate a second player to take on the responsibility should the captain leave the field.
The only decisions that can be challenged are ones which involve a structured restart of play (e.g. penalty, scrum, drop-out). Challenges will not be permitted where the referee allows play to proceed.
Sides will be permitted one unsuccessful challenge per game.
A final report and recommendations from NRL management will be presented at the next Commission meeting to determine the implementation.