Shot clock, foul play reform and new halfback rule welcomed at Super Rugby Pacific launch in Sydney


The on-field referee also retains the power to issue a full red card for deliberate foul play, in which case the player leaves for the rest of the game and cannot be replaced.

Cron, the former Norths head coach and Waratahs assistant now in his first season leading the Force, said the tweaks would speed up play.

The defending halfback will have to stay on his team’s side of the scrum.

The defending halfback will have to stay on his team’s side of the scrum.Credit:Getty

“One of the biggest things we agreed on in meetings as coaches was that we needed to take away the court case on field,” he said. “It’s too hard for a referee to make a decision on the field. You’re much better to leave as much as you can off the field so people have time to make the right decision, versus having to watch 82 replays. As a supporter, as a coach, you lose all momentum, and it ruins the game.”

Larkham, back at the Brumbies for his second stint as head coach after three seasons with Irish province Munster, said there was broad agreement among coaches across the competition that the game had developed an obsession with referees making perfect calls, harming the flow of the game and spectators’ entertainment.

“We probably went down the line of trying to make the game perfect from a refereeing perspective,” he said.

“We’re very comfortable as coaches to try and bring that back a little bit, understand that referees are going to make mistakes. Anything around the red card or foul play issues, if they are missed, we’ve got confidence that they’ll be picked up post-game and the players will be sanctioned accordingly.”

No arguments: Kickers will have 90 seconds to kick a conversion attempt and 60 seconds for a penalty.

No arguments: Kickers will have 90 seconds to kick a conversion attempt and 60 seconds for a penalty.Credit:Getty

Time limits on kicks for goals and a five-second limit on the halfback using the ball at the back of the ruck were also new, but it was a change to the No.9’s movements around the scrum that had Reds captain McDermott excited to play.

“I reckon it’s awesome. It depends on how good your scrum is as well, but it invites a running No.9 into the game and it also invites a running No.8, two things the Reds have,” he said. “I think it’s a great rule and I’m looking forward to exploiting it a little bit this year.”

The new rule stops a defending halfback from advancing beyond the tunnel of the scrum once it’s in play. McDermott’s NSW counterpart, Gordon, said he would miss the niggle factor but acknowledged it would clean up the back of the scrum.

“I think it was exciting for halfbacks to be able to challenge at the back of scrums, but I think with the way the game’s going at the moment, they want more ball in play and a more free-flowing contest, so I’m happy to run with that.”


The third major reform was placing a 30-second time limit on forwards assembling for the scrum and lineout. In a game sometimes riddled with play-slowing tactics, Cron said the time limit would make a huge difference.

“A shot clock at lineout and scrum is good, and it’s only to get there, to get ready,” he said. “You’re not putting pressure on the process, you’re putting on the fact that they have to get there in time. I hate people tying up shoelaces on the field. It’s a win.”

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