An extra-time golden try and 30-second restarts will be introduced as Australia’s rugby brains encourage “action, options and less dead time” in Super Rugby AU.
A host of law changes were introduced in last year’s domestic tournament after COVID-19 forced the suspension of traditional Super Rugby.
They will remain in 2021, but with some tweaks, when the season begins next Friday under a new broadcast deal that includes games on free-to-air television for the first time.
Red-carded players can be replaced by a substitute after 20 minutes, while a five-second time limit to use the ball once available will also be policed to eradicate tedious “caterpillar” rucking.
Teams will also have just 30 seconds to restart play after points are scored, while scrum resets will be timed by the television match official to crack down on unnecessary delays.
If a match is drawn, the team that scores the first try in extra time will automatically win the contest – no penalties or drop goals can be taken – in a tweak to encourage more attacking play in the Super Time initiative introduced last year.
The match will be drawn if no tries are scored in the two five-minute periods.
Rugby Australia director of rugby Scott Johnson also anticipates more expansive and creative attack because of the 50/22 kicking rule introduced last season.
Teams scored tries 36 per cent of the time after regaining possession from a successful 50/22 kick last season.
Johnson expects teams to exploit that further, but also hopes the threat of kicking will open up defences for sides willing to run the ball.
There will be an onus on officials to “speed up the game” while Johnson said RA’s mantra for “action, options and less dead time” wasn’t done solely for entertainment purposes.
“That’s not our mandate; we want to make winning Wallabies teams,” he said.
“We are cognisant of the fact it’s a competitive sporting landscape in Australia, but it’s not at the top of our agenda.
“Legislation change needs to be long term, innovative and improve the spectacle and be creative for the betterment of the game, not to tear at the fabric of it.”
Introduced last season, the red-card replacement ensures contests aren’t killed off in the first half by a numerical advantage.
Johnson is optimistic the tweak could find its way to Test level.
“They’re (World Rugby) certainly open-minded. Safety, speed and space is what they’re trying to get into our game and trying to achieve,” he said.
New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa will also feature a captain’s challenge, but with the prospect of reviews stretching back potentially 30 phases, Australian officials felt the initiative was too complicated and time-consuming to introduce.
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