New Zealand Rugby has announced a number of exciting law innovations for its domestic Vodacom Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Golden-point tiebreakers, giving teams the ability to replace red-carded players, and a renewed focus on ensuring a fair contest at the breakdown are among the innovations fans will notice when Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off this month.
The new-look tournament will start on Saturday, 13 June when the Highlanders face the Chiefs in Dunedin, while the Blues will play the Hurricanes on Sunday, 14 June.
‘We want this competition to look and feel different,’ NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said. ‘We’ve had great support from our coaches, players and referees to make Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa faster, safer and more exciting than ever before.’
As part of the exciting changes to the lawbook, a golden-point period will come into effect if teams are tied after the regular 80 minutes. The first team to score – by try, penalty or drop goal – during the 10-minute period of extra time will be awarded the win.
If a team loses by a golden point, they can still earn points for scoring three or more tries during regular time.
‘Draws can often leave everyone feeling a little empty and after feedback from our coaches and players we have added the golden-point rule,’ Lendrum said. ‘We’ve seen the excitement it can generate in other codes and we think adds a real edge.’
Players who have been shown a red card will be allowed to be replaced following a 20-minute period after they are sent from the field. The red-carded player will still be subject to Sanzaar’s judicial process and there will be no change to the yellow-card law.
‘While players should, and still will be, punished for foul play, red cards can sometimes have too much of an effect on a match,’ Lendrum said. ‘There are no winners when a player is red-carded, but paying rugby fans, players and coaches want to see a fair contest. Replacing a player after 20 minutes strikes the right balance.’
Further, New Zealand referees will be enforcing the breakdown laws in a stricter manner to create a faster and safer game while also allowing a fairer contest.
The key focal points for referees will be ensuring that ball-carriers only make one dynamic movement after being tackled and tacklers roll away immediately in the direction of the sideline.
Referees will also focus on enforcing the offside line to provide attacking teams with more space.
‘Fans enjoy Super Rugby because it’s a fantastic spectacle and our referees like to allow the game to flow,’ NZ referees manager Bryce Lawrence said. ‘We’re confident we’ll see a contest that is faster, fairer, safer and easier to understand.
‘We’re not changing the laws of the game, we’re being stricter about how we referee them.’
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