Sydney – Rugby Australia agreed Friday to test new rules in its domestic Super Rugby competition in a bid to liven up the game, including goal-line dropouts and a 10-minute golden point period if matches are tied.
Seven new laws will be trialled when the tournament featuring Super Rugby sides Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels, plus the Perth-based Western Force, kicks off on July 3.
Similar innovations will be used in New Zealand when its domestic tournament gets underway on Saturday after the original 15-team Super Rugby season across five countries was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
RA director of rugby Scott Johnson said the changes followed talks with coaches and players on ways to deliver more entertaining games. Rugby union struggles for visibility in Australia, where rugby league and Aussie Rules dominate.
"We assembled some of the best minds in the game from a range of different roles to look at adding some new attacking dimensions to the game while at the same time sticking to some key principles to preserve the fabric of the sport," Johnson said.
One key change will see dropouts taken from the try line instead of the 22-meter line if the defending player touches the ball down inside the goal area.
There are also variations on the 50-22 and 22-50 laws.
Under the new-look rules, a kick taken from within the defending team's 50-meter area that goes into touch within the opposition's 22 after bouncing will earn a lineout for the kicking team.
Similarly, a kick taken inside the 22 that travels into touch within the opposition's 50 after bouncing will be rewarded with a lineout to the kicking team.
Other innovations will allow red-carded players to be replaced after 20 minutes, and two five-minute periods of "super time" tacked on to the end of games if drawn, with victory awarded to the first team to score points.
Referees will also crack down on policing the breakdown, while limiting the number of scrum resets.
"Throughout the process we stuck to the principle that whatever we changed, the game still had to be rugby, and nothing could compromise the Wallabies' preparation for tests," Johnson said.
"In fact, I believe the changes we have implemented will broaden and enhance the capabilities of our players."