Ahead of the new season, Super Rugby Pacific have confirmed some new law innovations that aim to make the competition the “fastest professional” league “in the world.”
Super Rugby Pacific is set to get underway in just under two weeks’ time, with a New Zealand derby blockbuster between the champion Crusaders and Chiefs getting things underway.
But the competition will look a bit different this season, with a number of law variations having been announced on Tuesday.
The rugby lawbook is set for a radical shakeup with the pace of the game set to be prioritised and enforced like never before.
Among the new law variations, time limits will be enforced for shots at goal, lineouts, scrums and rucks.
“We want Super Rugby Pacific to be the most entertaining, innovative and fastest professional rugby competition in the world,” Tournament Director Matt Barlow said in a statement.
“We’ve listened to our fans and taken steps to reduce stoppages and video replays, increase flow and maintain the integrity of the competition and the safety of players in regard to yellow and red cards.
“Players, coaches and referees are excited about these innovations, and we believe they will create a better fan experience both at game and for those watching on television.”
The TMO will have less of a say this season, as they’ll be allowed to “interrupt” play whenever serious, clear and obvious incidents of foul play are missed by the on-field referees.
Referees will also be able to call on the TMO when reviewing a potential yellow card decision.
🗞 NEWS UPDATE | Some exciting law innovations are coming when the Super Rugby Pacific 2023 season kicks off February 24.
More details: https://t.co/sVafEF6aPq#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/F3iiEY7IWo
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) February 13, 2023
The decision to award a yellow card can also be reviewed by the TMO for up to eight-minutes, which may see the sanction upgraded to a 20-minute red card.
But that’s not. In fact, the final law change is probably the most radical of them all.
While the rugby world has become quite used to 20-minute red cards over the past few seasons, players can receive a “full red card” once again.
In instances of deliberate foul play, players can be sent from the field, and will not be able to be placed after 20-minutes.
“The review process for dangerous play will be as vigorous as ever and we believe TMOs will be able to make better judgements about the seriousness of foul play offences without the pressure of having to watch replays under stressful time constraints,” he added.
“There is also the addition of a stronger deterrent for deliberate foul play with the referee having the option of issuing a full red card.
“We know players and fans don’t want to watch multiple frame-by-frame replays while they wait for the match to resume, so we believe we’ve struck the right balance.
“TMOs will still be reviewing the two phases before a try is scored and can still be called upon by the referee to check things like the ball being grounded when a try has been scored.
“The difference will be the Match Official Team will lead the process and viewers will not see as many replays.”