New Zealand Rugby will implement the two-referee system in the National Provincial Championship on a trial basis next year.
The system is part of World Rugby's proposed law changes, to which the NZRU has agreed. The news come after unions asked the consent of the respective clubs to have the new laws tested in the premier competition.
Unlike the Varsity Cup, where the dual-referee system saw each official take charge of one half of the field, the second on-field ref will be primarily used in New Zealand to police the new offside line, which will be moved 1m back from a redefined ruck.
Current laws state a ruck is formed when a player from each team are on their feet over the ball. Now the word 'ruck' will be replaced by 'breakdown', which will be formed when just one attacking player is over the ball on the ground.
Once a breakdown is formed, no one player from either side will be able to play at the ball with their hands, but they will be able to enter the breakdown from any angle as long as they have come from an onside position.
That will bring an end to the penalisable offence of 'side entry' with the hope less penalties are conceded.
There are five proposed law changes in total, which are: two on-field referees; the removal of 'gate entry' at the breakdown; midpoint entry at the breakdown as long as it's from an onside position; tacklers' right to the ball reduced from 360 degrees to 180; and pegging offside lines 1m back from the breakdown.
Once the trials have been concluded, all approved changes would come into effect in January 2017 in the southern hemisphere and in August in the northern hemisphere.
Photo: Varsity Cup