Rugby AU keen to innovate on and off the field in new competition

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rugby Australia high performance manager Ben Whitaker says balance will be the key in considering any innovations for Super Rugby's resumption.

Australia's four Super Rugby coaches have been in discussions about some potential law changes that could be introduced to save time wit the hope that some may be trialled in the domestic competition that it is hoped will be played by July.

There is already a time limit on scrums being set in games but it is enforced by referees' timekeeping only and the possibility of displaying a clock on screen similar to the NRL could be investigated.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio expressed his broad support for the idea on Monday but underlined the need for forwards to be able to prepare for that in training.

Many law changes require World Rugby or SANZAAR approval so it is unlikely that there would be a swathe of adaptions 

Whitaker said the body was keen to try and innovate as much as possible with this shortened Super Rugby competition, with the process of selling the product to their broadcast partners still to be finalised.

"We feel we want to zero in on some variations that could attract, be entertaining, exciting et cetera and pave the way for the future but we're also mindful that this is Super Rugby and we want to make sure that what we put in place  is just that, and also it needs to lend itself to selecting a Wallabies team to play later in the year," he said.

Law changes often need to be approved by SANZAAR and World Rugby to be implemented but Whitaker said there was clearly an appetite to speed up the game.

“A lot of fans, a lot of media, a lot of players have looked at ways of limiting down time in the game, picking up the speed, which ultimately leads to greater fatigue as well,” Whitaker said.

“The scrum is such an interesting situation where you’ve got to be mindful of players’ safety at the same time.

“The referees have a watch, we just want to make sure that the idea of setting a scrum or engaging a scrum within 60 seconds of the mark being set, is something that is consistently applied.

“The players and the coaches at the moment are all in agreement that they want that and, other than situations where you feel that it is unsafe to apply that law, that’s what we will be doing in this competition.

“Whether there is a clock up on the big screen or not, TBC.”