Su­per Rugby rings in the rule changes

CityPress - - Sport - HEN­DRIK CRONJÉ sports@city­press.co.za

Changes in Su­per Rugby rules will now force as­sis­tant ref­er­ees to make more de­ci­sions one way or the other.

The de­ci­sion by the San­zar board to limit the use of the third match of­fi­cial (TMO), as it did in 2013, means as­sis­tant ref­er­ees will be ex­pected to make the right or wrong de­ci­sion in the heat of the mo­ment.

This was the most im­por­tant mes­sage by Lyn­don Bray, San­zar games man­ager, to the south­ern hemi­sphere’s lead­ing ref­er­ees, who met in Syd­ney last week.

The days are long gone where as­sis­tant ref­er­ees can rec­om­mend that cer­tain de­ci­sions be re­ferred to the TMO.

The San­zar board wants to speed up the game and avoid too many in­ter­rup­tions.

In one of the most im­por­tant rule changes, which will also put fur­ther pres­sure on the ref­eree, the as­sis­tance of the TMO may now only be used in the in-goal area when a try is scored and for foul play.

This means the ref­eree will, for ex­am­ple, not have the lux­ury of ask­ing the TMO to look at a pos­si­ble for­ward pass ear­lier in a move­ment that led to a try.

The ref­er­ees them­selves ap­par­ently had no say in the changes and were only in­structed to ap­ply them strictly.

The pos­si­bil­ity of a white card, where a cap­tain may re­fer one de­ci­sion per match to the TMO, was ap­par­ently dis­cussed – but not ap­proved.

Some of Su­per Rugby’s most im­por­tant rule changes and im­prove­ments are:

Only one team will get a try bonus point in a match – by scor­ing three more tries than the op­po­nent.

Bonus points will no longer be given to teams for four or more tries in a match. This could have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on a team’s ap­proach – and even pre­vent coaches from giv­ing all their sub­sti­tutes a chance to play to­wards the end of a game, as they might have to de­fend their lead of three tries.

The ball car­rier may no longer move from the front to the back in driv­ing mauls.

The ball must now move back from hand to hand af­ter the maul has been formed.

Teams will have to adapt to this and it will test their in­ge­nu­ity un­der pres­sure.

Ref­er­ees will wel­come this change be­cause they will now be able to pa­trol mauls bet­ter, but the as­sis­tant ref­er­ees will, in such cases, again be forced into mak­ing more de­ci­sions with­out the use of the TMO.

Goal kick­ers now get only 60 sec­onds to com­plete the kick for the posts af­ter a try or a penalty.

They were pre­vi­ously given 90 sec­onds.

If a penalty is awarded to a team af­ter time has elapsed for half­time or the fi­nal whis­tle, the team will now be al­lowed to kick for the touch line.

A line-out will then be al­lowed to take place.

An in­ter­est­ing in­no­va­tion for sup­port­ers who at­tend a game will be that the ref­eree’s mi­cro­phone will now be con­nected to the sta­dium’s speak­ers. This has been tested at New­lands pre­vi­ously, but it is still un­cer­tain whether all the lo­cal grounds are ready for this.

Such a step will put greater pres­sure on the ref­eree, as well as the play­ers, but will be to the ad­van­tage of sup­port­ers.

Sup­port­ers may find the rule changes con­fus­ing, es­pe­cially since the Six Na­tions se­ries will still be con­tested us­ing the old rules, for now. The north­ern hemi­sphere will only im­ple­ment the new rules later this year.

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