Red Card - see your replacement in 20 minutes
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 22: Jason Emery of the Highlanders receives a red card for a dangerous tackle from referee Ben O'Keefe during the round nine Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Sharks at Forsyth Barr Stadium on April 22, 2016 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

Not always, but for the most, a red card in a rugby match is tantamount to a ‘give way’ sign. The defensive effort is often too much – especially if that occurred in the opening half or the third quarter.

But as Super Rugby Aotearoa gets set to return, some law variations being trialed will see a replacement sent to the field within 20 minutes. Yes. If you transgress, that player is still out of the game altogether. However, a replacement player from the subs bench can be sent out after 20 minutes.

The reason for it in Super Rugby – and especially in the domestic league which will be played over the next 10 weeks – is to halt a familiar feeling. The dreaded draw…..” like kissing your sister” as the colloquial saying goes.

This variation on the law; along with several other game-changing trials, might end that stalemate. It will not end the white-hot pressure-pot matches that are local derbies within the New Zealand conference though. Those will continue and should attract the attention of rugby fans across the globe [starved of union].

The red card change, plus the new ruling on a ‘Golden Point’ assisting in removing the match being drawn will be elements that make this unique Aotearoa version of Super Rugby, that much more interesting than what was being offered.

Red Card – see your replacement in 20 minutes

With every day that New Zealand has zero new cases of Covid-19, the better the situation looks for a decent sporting competition. Seeming to soon be able to be seen by crowds that could be unlimited by health restrictions or social distancing, heightening that enthusiasm by assisting in a result is another boost.

“We want this competition to look and feel different. We’ve had great support from our coaches, players, and referees to make Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa faster, safer, and more exciting than ever before.

“We’ve seen the excitement it can generate in other codes and we think adds a real edge.”

With the concept being used in Rugby League for over 20 years, used in American Football, there are positive examples. Yet, football did away with it, to maintain the credibility of a quality drawn match. Rugby could be going for a ‘short term reward’ only in this competition, but opt back to the norm, when it comes to the 2021 Super Rugby full championship.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said in a media release that Super Rugby Aotearoa provided an opportunity to trial innovations designed to make the game more exciting for fans and players alike.

(1) Red card change 

Players who receive a red card can be replaced with another player 20 minutes after they are sent from the field. The sent-off player cannot return to the field and will face Sanzaar’s existing judicial process. There is no change to the yellow card sanction.

“While players should, and still will be, punished for foul play, red cards can sometimes have too much of an effect on a match,” Lendrum said. “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.”

(2) Golden point changes

If a match is tied after 80 minutes of regular time, the result will be decided by golden point. The first team to score – by drop goal, penalty kick, or try – during a 10-minute period of extra time will take the win and earn 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 allocation:
  • 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

Other changes will see Referees to enforce breakdown rules to create a faster and safer game. That is another factor that players will find both advantageous, as well as an adjustment. Yet all the innovations will be refined over the course of the 10-week series.

The full Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa draw is HERE

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Opinion: will the traditionalist enjoy ‘drop kick-athon’

If the lessons are learned from other team sports, it is that when the scores are level after 80 minutes, the most popular course of action is to drop kick the ball.

The problem becomes that gaining territory to only reach within 20-40 meters, only to go for the droppie seems futile to a game designed on attacking the tryline. Why settle for a kick? The other options are still open, yet for the majority of Golden Point results, teams focus hard to get the kick over as soon as practical and leave with the points. Often, teammates are left idle while the kickers are lined-up.

Droppie
Jordan Kahu of kicks a drop-goal during the International Rugby League Test Series match between England and New Zealand. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Traditionalists may soon be deterred from enjoying the finer challenges of playing to the 80th minute, to earn a draw. The competition to match your opponent, and reward in the modern game of sharing the spoils [competition points]. That satisfies some, however, the opportunity to give some of the audience of clear-cut result could isolate a portion of the longterm audience.

While this is only a trial, who is to say that Sir Bill Beaumont of World Rugby or Brent Impey of NZR doesn’t act solely on the popularity of Super Rugby Aotearoa. The golden point and red card replacements could skew the impact; ignoring traditional views and tendencies. They may not even gain the feedback of players, before rushing to make it permanent.

That outcome would be to the detriment of the sport. And may drive a wedge between the two groups for a long time to come.

 

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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