Big Hit Rugby can confirm thatnew law variations will be trialled in South Africa’s Varsity Cup, which is due to kick off on February 8.
Although World Rugby have already announced that measures such as a second referee and the awarding of six points for a try are being introduced in a number of tournaments this year, the changes being introduced in South Africa are new.
The changes to the points scoring system is an entirely different concept, with the number of points scored determined by where the move started.
Tries will still be worth five points, but two bonus points will be added if the attacking team holds onto possession throughout a move that began between the halfway line and opponents 22.
Four bonus points will be awarded if the attacking team maintains possession throughout a move that resulted in a try which originated in their own half.
The referees scrum commands will also change from crouch bind and set to crouch, bind, slide.
Following the crouch command, props will bind onto each other without being allowed to bind onto the armpit or below the middle of the rib area.
Once the referee determines that the bind position has been established, props will not be allowed change or adjust the position. They will come ear to ear and slide into position upon command. Once the scrum is stable, the half back will be instructed to feed the ball.
This will take much of the impact out the initial hit, and see props scrummage as they did during the amateur era.
Referees will also be instructed to act swiftly if a maul does not move forward. If a maul does not advance in the initial five seconds after it’s foundation, the referee will allow the scrum half three seconds the play the ball. If the ball fails to emerge after that duration, a scrum will be awarded to the opposing team.
Finally the white card is arguably the most interesting development. Although it will only be used during the semi finals and final of the Varsity Cup, it will allow teams to ask the referee to review a decision or instance in play. However teams will be limited to one white card per half.
While the first three measures will encourage quick attacking play, the white card could see play cease while decisions under go review. Considering that this was an issue at the recent World Cup there are concerns this will further slow the game.