A new code of ethics is being drawn up for players and officials in the USA Rugby League (USARL).
It’s part of the International Rugby League’s (IRL) certification for membership.
The USARL has appointed a five-member committee to draft a new code following a few instances this year that prompted the need for a code of ethics rather than having a disciplinary panel for non-match-related incidents.
USARL director of education Cody Kuxmann, who heads up the committee, says up until recently, there hadn’t been a need for a code of ethics for players.
“It hadn’t come up before and had never been an issue,” he says. “There had never really been anything that we needed a code of ethics for.
“There are policies in place for the ethics of board members, but in terms of players and officials, whether that be coaches, match officials or team administration, there’s nothing out there for the USARL for a code of ethics.
“We identified a problem that hadn’t come up before and really needed a solution for it, and we felt that this was the right time to put that solution in place. We didn’t have any guidelines or principles to go off of, so that was kind of a challenge.”
Issues covered by the new code include discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, gambling, drug use and social media.
Kuxmann says a code of ethics is necessary because rugby league is growing in ways that haven’t happened before in the US such as women and youth starting to play which he says could lead to situations that weren’t around before.
“Discrimination is a very prevalent topic in America,” he says. “We have multiple races playing and there are different cultures within the American sporting dynamic, and we had some interactions that we felt were not what we wanted to see.
“We wanted to make sure that going forward, there was a policy that if off-field incidences happened between players that we had something to address this.”
Kuxmann stresses that it is only for off-field matters like derogatory comments posted on social media, as the USARL already has a disciplinary process in place for on-field incidents.
He points out that every major sporting league has a code of ethics, and the committee has looked at policies used by the RFL, NRL and NWSL (the women’s professional soccer league in the US) to form a basis for the USARL’s code.
“When I look at any governing body, they all have conduct related to many issues within their code of ethics,” he continues. “The IRL is encouraging all nations to ensure they have them as well.
“We’re working on pushing to make sure that protections are in place. Hopefully, they’re never needed. However, we want to make sure that the safeguarding and policies are there.”
Kuxmann says the committee plans to have a final draft of the code ready by the end of this month so that it can be given to the board for review ahead of the annual general meeting, which usually happens early in the year.
“Assuming it’s approved, it would be a policy that all players and officials (coaches, match officials, club administration) would need to follow,” he says.