World Rugby follows SA's Varsity Cup lead

Tue, 01 May 2018 15:22
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NEWS: World Rugby is allowing a major new shake-up of laws for matches involving Western Force, one of which is very familiar to South African teams at Varsity Cup level.

The Force, who were dropped from Super Rugby after a lengthy wrangle with Rugby Australia, are about to begin life in World Series Rugby where they will come up against sides from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Hong Kong.

Their first match will be on May 4th against Fiji Warriors at nib Stadium in Perth where a series of new laws will be on display including a nine-point try called a 'Power Try', which World Rugby have sanctioned.

South Africa's Varsity Cup introduced very similar law change back in 2016.

That tournament also introduced a nine-point try as well as a seven-point try depending on where the move started on the field.

A statement from World Rugby said:

"The World Rugby Executive Committee has approved a request by Rugby Australia for a temporary closed laws trial for matches involving the Western Force this year.

- When a try is scored from play initiated from within the try scoring team's own 22m and there is no break in continuity of possession by the scoring team, the try is awarded seven points (not five points). A conversion attempt would follow (making nine points total).
- If possession changes or a penalty, line-out or scrum is awarded, then this breaks the sequence of possession for the try scoring team and a normal five-point try would be earned.

"World Rugby and its unions continually review and consider law amendments that have the potential to enhance playing, officiating and viewing experience, while not adversely impacting player welfare. Rugby Australia made the submission on the basis that the amendments will reward positive play.

"This stand-alone closed trial will not be considered as part of the current package of global law trials that will be considered by Council for adoption into law at its annual meeting in May.

"Approval was granted by the Executive Committee subject to the fact that this is a unique one-off trial and a full detail statistical analysis of the outcomes will be presented to World Rugby by Rugby Australia following the conclusion of the series."

Western Force meanwhile welcomed the approval from rugby's governing body saying they were 'thrilled".

The new World Series Rugby tournament will also allow for up to 12 substitutions, compared to eight that are currently allowed.

One minute scrums will also be in place, from time of mark to completion, which organisers say "puts the onus on players to keep the scrum up and encourages quick decision making to allow play to continue".

There will be no hanging around at line-outs either, with them being taken "as soon as the throwing team is ready – they do not have to wait for their opponent or the referee".

World Cup-winning Wallaby David Campese threw his weight behind the new concepts

"In Australia you can turn off and watch something else and we don't want that. We want fans who love rugby and obviously, I am more passionate now than when I played because we have got the opportunity to do that [entertaining rugby]. In Western Australia this week, you have got Fiji, the national team, and it's a big thing to have a competition. I think the rest of Australia has to look and see if the Force can play a style of rugby that, if it works, why can't we play the same?" Campese said.

Western Force CEO Nick Marvin added: "What you will see in the World Series Rugby matches this year has the potential to revolutionise the way rugby is played, but it is only the beginning of how we are thinking about the future of this great game. All the feedback we are receiving – from diehard fans, players, officials and the wider community – is that something needs to change, and we are prepared to be the ones to lead the way."