Super Rugby Pacific introduces offside law variations

Mon, Feb 12, 2024, 9:57 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Super Rugby Pacific has introduced laws to combat kicking duels. Photo: Getty Images
Super Rugby Pacific has introduced laws to combat kicking duels. Photo: Getty Images

Super Rugby Pacific will look to encourage more counterattacking from kicking duals as they tweak the offside laws.

The current laws state players can be put onside from a kick if the ball is either passed or the ball carrier runs five metres.

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This limits the amount of opportunities and space to attack, leading to further kicking between the teams.

Super Rugby Pacific’s Law Innovation will remove those two clauses, meaning defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker, or the kicker themself.

“We want to create a game that’s exciting for our fans and enjoyable for our players," Super Rugby Pacific Chair Kevin Malloy said. "Part of that is seeing our players running the ball rather than trading multiple kicks in a battle for territory. We’re listening to our fans and 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.

“Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that’s seen large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called kick tennis.

"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.”

The Law Innovation has been sanctioned by World Rugby as a trial during the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.

“We were really happy with the spectacle last year and hence we have only made one tweak to the laws for 2024," Molloy added.

"We want to keep building an exciting, fast-moving brand of rugby that our fans want to watch.”

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