New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Super Rugby Aotearoa, which will get underway on 13 June, will feature interesting rule changes.
The domestic rugby competition will use a ‘golden point’ system and the ability for teams to replace red-carded players after 20 minutes.
“While players should, and still will be, punished for foul play, red cards can sometimes have too much of an effect on a match,” said NZR’s head of professional rugby, Chris Lendrum.
“There are no winners when a player is red-carded, but paying rugby fans, players and coaches want to see a fair contest. Replacing a player after 20 minutes strikes the right balance.”
If a match is tied after 80 minutes of regular time, the result will be decided by a golden point. The first team to score – by drop goal, penalty kick, or try – during a 10-minute period of extra time will earn the win and the four competition points.
"Draws can often leave everyone feeling a little empty and after feedback from our coaches and players we have added the golden point rule," Lendrum said. "We've seen the excitement it can generate in other codes and we think adds a real edge."
If a team loses via golden point, they can still earn bonus points for scoring three or more tries than the opposition in either regular time or extra time.
Points will be as follows:
• 4 competition points to the winning team
• 1 competition point to the losing team
• 2 competition points to each team if neither team scores during extra time
• 1 competition point to any team scoring three tries or more than the opposition
• Ball carriers will be allowed only one dynamic movement after being tackled.
• Crawling, or any secondary movement other than placing or passing, will be penalised.
• Tacklers will be expected to roll away immediately in the direction of the side-line. This will be a referee's "number one priority" at the tackle.
• There will be "extra focus" on the offside line with defenders expected to be "clearly" onside to provide attacking teams more space.
"Fans enjoy Super Rugby because it's a fantastic spectacle and our referees like to allow the game to flow," said NZR national referee manager Bryce Lawrence.
"We're confident we'll see a contest that is faster, fairer, safer and easier to understand.
"We're not changing the laws of the game, we're being stricter about how we referee them."