The Varsity Cup will test a number of proposed law changes in 2016, including a new nine-point try.
They include changes to point-scoring (try), scrums, mauls and the white card.
Paul Dobson of Rugby365 explains:
TRY POINTS VALUE
A try will still be worth five points, but there are bonus points available depending on where the try-scoring move started.
a) If the team that scores the try started its move between the halfway line and the opponents' 22 and they kept possession from start to finish, they will get two bonus points. That means the try will be worth seven points.
b) If the team that scores the try started its move in its own half and they kept possession from start to finish, they will get four bonus points. That means the try will be worth nine points.
The instructions to set the scrum will change to crouch, bind, slide.
Following the initial crouch, props will bind onto each other, without being allowed to bind onto any armpit or below the middle of the rib area. Once the props have a solid grip, the referee will decide that their bind positions have been established and they will not be allowed to change or adjust those. Props will also have to line up ear to ear and not be allowed to line up head to head.
Finally, the slide call will replace set. 'Set' was a better word than the aggressive 'hit', but the change to 'slide' suggests a change in process. On slide the players will firm up their contact but without smashing into each other. It is more like the folding in of olden times. The front rows are lined up properly and bound fully and unchangeably, and now they come together. Then, once the referee has decided that the scrum is stable, he will instruct the scrumhalf to feed the ball into the scrum and do so in the manner prescribed by law, straight for one thing. It is hoped that in this way the scrum will be safer, less likely to collapse and encouraging a fair contest for the ball.
There is a slight change to the maul enabling the referee to act more swiftly if the maul does not keep going forward.
If a maul stops moving or moves sideways or backwards, the referee will call for the maul to move forward. The team in possession will be given five seconds to get the maul moving forwards. If they fail to get the maul moving forwards the referee will allow three seconds, counted aloud, for the team with the ball to produce the ball and play with it. If they fail to produce the ball and play with it, the referee will stop play and award a scrum to the team not in possession of the maul.
The white card review system, introduced in 2015 to allow teams a limited opportunity to ask the referee to review a decision or non-decision, will be only used in the semifinals and the final in 2016. Teams are limited to one review per half.
The Varisty Cup has done away with the use of two referees in favour of the traditional one referee for 2016.
Note: The above law changes will only be tested in the Varsity Cup and will not affect the Varsity Shield, Koshuis Cup or the Young Guns.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images