Law Variation

After a period of public voting, the ARU reassessed the list in light of the voting, and in consultation with the original expert panel (Bob Dwyer, Wayne Erickson, Rod Kafer and Ewen McKenzie). We also canvassed opinion from other stakeholder groups such as the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), and took into account some feedback on online forums such as The Roar, and Green and Gold Rugby.

ARU was also mindful of the fact that changes to Law must be approved by the International Rugby Board (IRB). Taking this into account, the ARU submitted a request to the IRB to trial a variation to points scoring arrangements, which has been approved.

Other variations to be implemented in the Buildcorp NRC will be matters of referee ‘interpretation’, all of which have the underlying aim of maintaining the fabric of the game, enhancing exciting play, rewarding risk, and reducing complication in the game.

Detailed guidelines for how referees will implement the changes have been distributed to all teams. Match officials involved in Buildcorp NRC and the NRC team coaches have also been briefed to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the variations and their intent.

Points Change

The most popular request from the public in the idea submission stage of the NRC Law Variation process was a change to the points system, and there were various proposed solutions along these lines. This was not put to public for vote because of the already overwhelming support for the concept.

The IRB has approved an ARU submission for the NRC to implement a points system that reduces points for penalty goals and drop goal to two, and increases the points for a conversion goal to three. Tries remain worth five points.

Voting Results

Over 6,000 votes were cast during the public voting period. The number of votes each variation received indicated that all of the options were quite well thought of by the general public.

The two most popular options were allowing leeway with the straightness of a line-out throw when there is no contest from the non-throwing team, and being able to kick to touch and continue with a lineout if a team is awarded a penalty kick after time has expired. Other ideas voted in the top five included time limits for scrum formation and kicks at goal. All of these options will be implemented as referee ‘interpretations’ of current Law.

The ARU took the voting into account and decided not to proceed with attempting to implement five of the lowest voted options – including allowing a mark anywhere, the non-offending captain choosing an opponent to receive a yellow card for team infringements, and free kicks for kick-off infringements.

NRC Law Variations

Guiding Principles:

  • Maintain fabric of the game
  • Enhance exciting play (reward risk) – fan engagement
  • Avoid complicating interpretation of the game – players, coaches, referees, fans
  • Genuine trials for medium to longer term influence

Law Amendments

Variation

Notes

Reduce Penalty Goal and Dropped Goal value to 2 points; and Increase Conversion Goal value to 3 points

Placing greater value on try scoring whilst maintaining role of Penalty Goal option (i.e. punishing offending team)
Already trialled in South Africa’s Varsity Cup
Referees to be strong with cynical or repeated infringements

Law Application Changes (i.e. referee interpretation)

Variation

Notes

Reduced time limits for conversions to 60 seconds and penalty kick attempts down to 45 seconds. (Law 9.B.1e and 24.1b)

Currently at 90 sec for tries and 60 seconds for PKs and loosely managed.
Time starts for conversions when try is awarded and for PKs when tee arrives.
Referees should be switched on to which team is delaying the kick

Quick throw ins are OK if touched by any player or support staff; must be same ball as per current law. (Law 19.2d)

This change frees teams from a technical Law that will allow for quicker play. The intent of this law is to provide the opportunity for more quick throw-ins not to provide an unfair advantage
Must be same ball, lineout not set i.e. 2 from each team
No delay in formation, quick means quick
Can be touched by other players over the sideline including relay
If support staff or reserves deliberately touch the ball a PK is awarded 15m in.
A quick throw in can still be taken if it touches support staff or reserves
Referees to be strict on players tackled over the sideline throwing ball away or not giving up ball for a quick throw = PK 15m in.

A ‘table top’ area allowed for quick taps (Law 21.2a)

Continuous play. Any tap must be taken from behind the mark. All scrum PKs/FKs must be taken in line with the number eight.

Manage a time limit (30 seconds) to set and feed a scrum

Reduce time wasting
Need to manage delays for genuine injuries
30 seconds to start from when referee makes mark
Ability to move scrum if injury is minor

Scrum feed

Scrum stability is key before the ball is fed. No ‘set’ and chase. The referee will indicate with a non-verbal signal when the half back is to feed the ball

More focus on applying laws once maul formed (Law 17.2d)

Aim is to discourage the "choke tackle/maul by ensuring that these players don't then collapse the maul to force a turnover

Defending half-back cannot enter area (“pocket”) between flanker and number 8

Continuous play but allows for dominant scrum and halfback to exert pressure but the halfback must not contact the scrum at any stage

If non-throwing team does not genuinely contest for the ball, the straightness of the throw is not considered  (Law 19.6)

Continuous play. The intent is that if the non-throwing team genuinely does not intend to contest then there is some leeway in the straightness of the throw. If the non-throwing team does not contest for the ball near where the ball is thrown, the referee may apply material effect and play on if the throw is not straight
The ball should not be deliberately thrown not straight. There must be an opportunity to contest and the ball must be caught within the outside shoulder. A short ball to 1 or 2 in the lineout should be straight.

After half-time and full-time, if awarded a Penalty Kick, you can kick to touch and play the lineout (Law 5.7e)

Appropriately conclude a match without negative tactics.
If the team receiving the penalty wants to finish the match they need to tap it first before kicking into touch.

Game Management & Competition Changes

Variation

Notes

Instead of 4 try bonus point system, the winning team is awarded a bonus point for finishing 3 or more tries ahead of their opponents. A bonus point will be awarded to the losing team finishing within 8 points of the winning team.

Maintains ‘reward for risk’ aspect of matches (full 80 min)
Currently used in France and ARU’s Junior Gold Cup

Pre-2013 TMO protocol to be used (i.e. try scoring and in goal situations only)

Reduce time wasted on referrals by limiting what can be referred. Benefit of doubt to attacking team. If the TMO is reviewing the footage of the act of scoring and an infringement is apparent then he can alert the referee.