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NZRU Disciplinary Rules

NZRU Disciplinary Rules

In late November last year, World Rugby (WR) made changes relating to WR Regulations 17 (Discipline – Foul Play), 18 (Misconduct and Code of Conduct) and 20 (Disciplinary and Judicial Matters).

To align with WR Regulations, NZR has incorporated these amendments into the NZRU Disciplinary Rules.

The key changes to the NZRU Disciplinary Rules are summarized below.

Please also find attached the following:

  • A clean version of the latest NZRU Disciplinary Rules which are effective from 1 March 2021;
  • A marked up version showing the changes to the previous version of these Rules;
  • A copy of the WR guidance on how to treat matches that are cancelled.
  • Tthe latest version of the NZRU Disciplinary Rules the most up to date edition as published by NZR (

Key amendments to the NZRU Disciplinary Rules:

Collaboration of Citing Commissioners Citing Commissioners will now be permitted to collaborate rather than to operate strictly independently. This reflects the system that NZR has implemented which works well to ensure consistency.
Appointment of Judicial Officers Different appointment criteria for disciplinary personnel depending on the level of rugby.  In particular, the express provisions for Community and Amateur Judicial officers to be legal practitioners serving or retired or persons with appropriate training or experience.
Reasons for Non-attendance at hearing In the event the Player in question cannot attend a hearing, it is now part of WR Regulation 17 and subsequently the NZRU Disciplinary Rules that they include reasoning why they are unable to attend. Previously this was not an express provision and only went as far as providing notice for non-attendance.
Public Hearing Express provisions whereby a Player can now apply for a hearing to be made available to the public. This has not been dealt with previously and may only be of significant effect for high profile matters or extensive sanctions.
Burden of Proof New express provision which sets out when a Player does not accept that their acts of Foul Play warranted an Ordering Off or Citing the burden of proof rests on the Player to show that the Citing Commissioner or referee was wrong.
Stage 1 – Red Card Test Rewording of pre-existing rules for greater clarity on establishing if the acts of Foul Play warranted an Ordering Off/Red Card.
Stage 2 – Sanctions and core sanctioning process Rewording of pre-existing rules which provides greater clarity on the sanctioning process by breaking the process down into four clear steps:

  1. Correct entry point;
  2. Reasons to increase sanction (aggravating factors);
  3. Reasons to decrease sanction (mitigating factors); and
  4. Applying sanctions to playing schedules.
Aggravating factors Amendments to aggravating factors to increase a sanction now also include:

  1. the need to deter a pattern of behaviour from a team that has been put on notice for such type of offending; and
  2. a player’s poor conduct prior to or at the hearing.
Imposing Sanctions to the Player’s playing schedule To align with WR Regulation 17 a Judicial Officer or Judicial Committee can now provide alternative applications of a player sanction where a schedule may change depending on a team’s progression in a tournament.  Previously could only issue one sanction and had to guess at how far a team would proceed.
COVID 19 and Sanctions WR guidance has been provided in relation to the imposition of sanctions with current fluid rugby schedules that are often postponed or cancelled due to the implications of COVID 19.


  1. No clear resumption – sanction to apply as normal when play resumes.
  2. Match postponed – does not count towards sanction.
  3. Match cancelled and points awarded – does count towards a sanction.
  4. Match cancelled and no points (warm up games) – does not count towards a sanction.

Please note this is not a Rule as contained in WR Regulations or the NZRU Disciplinary Rules but guidance on how to treat sanctions in the above scenarios. For further information see the WR guidance attached.

Sanction for Misconduct Additional sanctions for Misconduct now also include the cancellation of a Match result, the replaying of a Match and forfeiture of a Match.
Variations and Corrections of Decisions New rule stemming, from WR Regulation 20 which allows the correction of an accidental slip, error or omission in a decision within 28 days from the Decision, these powers cannot be used in relation to an appeal.
Cross References to WR Regulations Updates throughout the Rules to correctly refer to WR Regulations as Regulation 18 now deals with off field Misconduct (previously included at WR Regulation 17).
Miscellaneous A range of miscellaneous changes with respect to sentence structure and grammar that are not material have also been made.

One further minor change has been to incorporate a suggestion that we remove the reference to “the Black Book”, and accordingly we will now refer to this document as the “NZRU Disciplinary Rules” including deleting the reference to “the Black Book” on the document itself.