May 29, 2023

Super Rugby Pacific announces new set of rules designed to speed up game

Referee Ben O’Keeffe shows a yellow card to Adrian Choat.

Super Rugby Pacific will introduce a raft of innovative new rules for the upcoming 2023 season.

The changes include time restrictions on goal kicks, set pieces and rucks and a streamlined Third Match Official process its hope will make the game “faster and more fluid than ever before”.

Referees will enforce 90-second time limits on conversions, 60 seconds for penalty kicks, 30 seconds for scrums and lineouts to be set, and five seconds for the ball to be used at rucks.

TMOs will only interrupt play for serious, clear and obvious incidents of foul play missed by the on-field referee. 

Referees will be able to call on the TMO to rule on a yellow card, but any extended video reviews will take place once the player has left the field. 

The TMO will then have eight minutes to either uphold a 10-minute yellow card decision or upgrade it to a 20-minute red card, in which case the player will not return to the field but can still be replaced. 

Referees will now also have the power to issue a full red card for deliberate foul play, in which case the player will not return to the field and cannot be replaced. 

Tournament director Matt Barlow said the changes were agreed upon by all teams and World Rugby and will make the game more attractive to fans and safer for players.

“We want Super Rugby Pacific to be the most entertaining, innovative and fastest professional rugby competition in the world,” said Barlow.  

“We’ve listened to our fans and taken steps to reduce stoppages and video replays, increase flow and maintain the integrity of the competition and the safety of players in regard to yellow and red cards. 

“Players, coaches and referees are excited about these innovations, and we believe they will create a better fan experience both at the game and for those watching on television.”

Barlow believes changes will ensure dangerous play is dealt with in a manner which doesn’t compromise the spectator experience or the safety of the players.

“The review process for dangerous play will be as vigorous as ever and we believe TMOs will be able to make better judgements about the seriousness of foul play offences without the pressure of having to watch replays under stressful time constraints,” he added.  

“There is also the addition of a stronger deterrent for deliberate foul play with the referee having the option of issuing a full red card. 

“We know players and fans don’t want to watch multiple frame-by-frame replays while they wait for the match to resume, so we believe we’ve struck the right balance.”

Super Rugby Pacific kicks off on February 24 with a clash between the defending champion Crusaders and the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Would you like to receive notifications on latest updates? No Yes