Campbell 'stoked' with new Super Rugby Pacific law change

Tue, Feb 13, 2024, 5:12 AM
Murray Wenzel - AAP
by Murray Wenzel - AAP
Watch the highlights as the Western Force beat the Queensland Reds 21-19 at Brisbane's Ballymore Stadium in their opening pre-season trial game.

A stoked Jock Campbell has lauded Super Rugby Pacific's overhaul of the offside rule that will discourage teams from engaging in a tedious game of "kick tennis".

Officials on Tuesday revealed a law variation that they think will close a "loophole" and encourage counterattacking rugby when the competition begins next Friday.

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The tweak has been endorsed by World Rugby and could be introduced at Test level later this year.

Traditionally, defenders in front of the kicker are put onside when a kick receiver either passes the ball or runs five metres with the ball.

But Super Rugby Pacific's innovation will throw out those two clauses.

Instead, defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker, or the kicker themself.

Under the new rules, a long kick will be tougher to defend, with a fullback or winger able to glide past any would-be tacklers isolated in front of the kicker and chasers.

Queensland Reds fullback Campbell said discouraging the tactic, employed by Super Rugby powerhouses the Crusaders and France in particular, would improve the spectacle.

"I'm stoked, I think it's great," he said after experiencing it in trial games against the Western Force and NSW Waratahs in the last fortnight. 

"When I played France (on the 2022 Spring Tour) we made a mention of it and it's tough to play against it.

"If done well it really stifles you, because they can leave a line of defenders up there knowing they're going to kick it back.

"Catching a lot of balls in the back field; it's silly having someone just waiting to tackle you once you've run five metres.

"It opens up the game. I think it was an old rule anyway. Who wants to see more kicking?"

It is the latest in a series of law tweaks in recent seasons designed to increase ball-in-play time.

"Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that's seen a large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called 'kick tennis'," Super Rugby Pacific chairman Kevin Malloy said.

"We don't believe that's the spectacle our fans want to see in Super Rugby Pacific.

"We want to open up the opportunity for teams to counterattack with the ball in hand, and we're confident this tweak to the law will encourage that trend and encourage exciting, attacking rugby.

"With the full support of New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia and our coaches we've responded with a small change we think could make a big difference."

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