Varsity Cup Rugby Rules for 2018 – Power Play Introduced

Varsity Cup Rules
Pau's fly-half Tom Taylor of New Zealand prepares to kick the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Pau and Lyon at Hameau Stadium in Pau on September 10, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / IROZ GAIZKA (Photo credit should read IROZ GAIZKA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Varsity Cup Rugby Rules for 2018 have been released, with a power play being introduced.

Varsity Cup Rugby Rules

Varsity Cup Rugby rules have been tinkered with for a number of years. The experiment in 2017 was to increase the value of a try if it was scored from further out, in denominations of 5, 7 or 9 points before the conversion. The jury is still out on the initiative, as at times no-one in the stadium was immediately aware what the value of a try was when scored and had to look for the assistant holding the try value board up.

The Power Play

The latest rule variation, announced on 5 December 2017, is the introduction of a power play. A team can elect to have two nominated members of the opposition back line removed from the game for three minutes. The marketing speak tells us that this will create attacking opportunities for the team calling the power play and will force the team losing players to learn to defend with fewer players.

Will It Work?

We struggle to see the point of this experimental rule and comes over as purely a gimmick. Yes, red and yellow cards are certainly part of the game and we often see a team enjoying a numerical advantage because of a card being issued. This in itself creates an advantage for the opposing team. The lesson to be learned here is that discipline has to be maintained. Replicating this situation synthetically does not add anything to the game.

This synthetic situation will not add anything to the attacking abilities of players. They will be presented with artificial situations where they have a numerical advantage and scoring is possible because of that advantage. How will this power play teach a player to break the advantage line against a full complement of opposition if they rely on the artificial situation that the power play represents?

The Curve Ball

What the tournament organizers have not provided clarity on is what happens if a captain calls a power play straight after the opposing team has received a yellow card. Do they play on with 15 players against 12?

Who To Remove

There are a few variations of which positions a team should nominate to be removed from the game for three minutes. Here are a few:


What would this writer do? Take two specialist positions out of the game. The flyhalf and outside center.

Are There Better Suggestions?

An alternative suggestion comes from @jwcoetzee:

There is no correct answer to this question. Rather look at constructive ways to bring an element of novelty to the game and not ways to complicate it for new fans or to paper over a larger issue – a lack of attacking ability.

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