The AFL has written to all eight clubs to advise the details of the operation of the Match Review Panel (MRP) and Tribunal for the inaugural 2017 NAB AFL Women's Competition (AFLW).
AFL General Manager Game and Market Development Simon Lethlean said the judicial process for the AFLW would broadly operate under the same lines as for the AFL, with some differences.
Mr Lethlean said the key points were:
The MRP will convene each week to review all matches and to process any penalties. The MRP panel will be drawn from current MRP member Michael Christian, former Australian netball captain Sharelle McMahon, former St Kilda captain and Collingwood premiership player Luke Ball and AFL staff Jennie Loughnan, Patrick Clifton and Ali Gronow;
The AFLW Tribunal /jury will be chaired by AFL Tribunal chair David Jones or Deputy Chairman Ross Howie, supported by the current AFL Tribunal jury members;
All offences will be categorised as either reprimands or matches of suspension, using a table of offences as per the AFL competition;
AFLW players will not be subject to financial sanctions for any offence, acknowledging the fact the league is not yet fully professional for the players;
As per the AFL system, offences will be graded in two categories of intentional or careless;
As per the AFL system, impact will be graded in four categories of low, medium, high or severe;
For the AFLW, contact will be graded in two categories of either body or high/groin/chest;
A player who receives a second reprimand during the season for the same type of offence will face a one-game suspension;
In respect of Classifiable offences in the AFLW, a previous suspension of at least two matches will result in an additional one-game loading for any further offence drawing a suspension of two matches or more, as per the AFL competition
The AFL and the player will each be represented at any Tribunal hearing, as per the AFL Tribunal;
The grading table for penalties for offences is included below.
Mr Lethlean said the AFLW would operate with a full MRP/Tribunal system to ensure that any illegal play was acted upon, for the safety of all players.
“The AFLW will operate with a full Match Review and Tribunal system to ensure that the skills of the players can be showcased and their safety can be protected,” Mr Lethlean said.
“The key focus was to ensure that the implications for any illegal play are clearly understood by both players and clubs and the fans watching our games.
“The league is not yet fully professional, with a seven-week season, and therefore we have acknowledged that by determining that players will not face financial sanctions as happens in the AFL for low level offences, such as wrestling / melee offences. In the AFLW in respect of Low Level offences, a player will be eligible for a reprimand at the first offence and any second subsequent offence during the competition would see the player liable for suspension,’ he said.
Mr Lethlean said it was a strength of the MRP system that players were able to accept a reprimand or reduced penalty for pleading guilty to an offence, while the competition did not want to see players missing matches for low-level offences and also wished to avoid any confusion around carry-over points and poor records as had occurred previously within the AFL.
“In recent years, the AFL has simplified the MRP process so all players, coaches and fans can understand the offence and plea process, with an easier to understand table of offences and categories. It was important to us that this was also used in AFLW,” he said.