SANZAAR announces law variations

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Super Rugby bonus points are set for a change in 2016, with SANZAAR confirming law variations for the new season.

The four-try bonus point will be scrapped in favour of a bonus point for a team finishing three or more tries ahead of their opponent.

This version is already used in European competitions, including France’s Top 14 and SANZAAR hopes it will continue to foster a more attacking style of play.

Australian Rugby fans would have seen this system in the provincial NRC competition, a tournament that has seen a number of tweaked rules to encourage try-scoring since its 2014 inception.

The bonus point switch was one of a handful of rule changes announced by SANZAAR, after originally being tabled in October of 2015.

Teams awarded a penalty after time has expired  will be able to opt for a lineout from now on, while kickers will have just 60 seconds to take their shot from the time a try has been scored or a penalty given.

SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said he changes were introduced to ensure teams played with a try-scoring mentality.

"These law amendments, while subtle in nature, will help Super Rugby's continuing evolution as the best provincial competition in the world," he said.

"The change to the bonus point, which has been widely discussed throughout the past week as one potential innovation, has now been formally approved by the ExCo for the 2016 season.

"By implementing this change, we expect to see more attacking and competitive rugby as teams will be asked to keep their foot down for the full 80 in order to claim the try-scoring bonus point, which we have seen used to great effect in France over the past few years.

"In addition to this, permitting teams to opt for a lineout after time has expired serves to disincentive opponents from infringing and aims to reward sides that are particularly strong set-piece exponents.”

Marinos said SANZAAR had also considered the possibility of return to only using Television Match Official (TMO) for tries, in-goal and foul play rulings but will instead wait on a World Rugby TMO review to be handed down later this year.

The SANZAAR refs convened for a five-day camp at the start of the year. Photo: SANZAAR

The governing body also announced its 2016 refereeing squad, with former Reds halfback Nic Berry set to make his Super Rugby debut.

Berry officiated in the NRC in 2015, after working his way through the club rugby system and will be one of nine Super Rugby referee debutants this season, including Japan’s Shuhei Kubo and Argentina’s Federico Anselmi.

Marinos and SANZAAR chief operations officer Brendan Morris attended a full day of a recent referee camp, a move that Marions said was beneficial.

"It was important for me to meet with the men who play a big role in the product that Super Rugby is and to share with them the business and rugby imperatives that we have,” he said.

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