Referees to target four key areas to improve flow of game

Feb 12 • General News, Super Rugby • 2201 Views • Comments Off on Referees to target four key areas to improve flow of game

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Referees will target the tackle ball area, scrum engagements and lineout mauls as a priority when the new Investec Super Rugby season gets under way this weekend.

New Zealand Rugby High Performance Referee Manager Rod Hill said the latest game priorities, confirmed during a SANZAR referees camp in Sydney last month, followed consultation and feedback from teams and coaches.

“Our aim is really clear – ensuring we are doing all we can to drive a high octane, high energy game – and that’s great for players and fans alike,” he said.


Tackler in a ruck: Referees will keep a keen eye on tacklers who end up on the wrong side of the ruck, and don’t roll out of the way quickly enough. Teams are being asked to focus on getting tacklers to roll sideways out of the way, rather than backwards and interfering with the 9. Ideally tacklers will hit the ruck so they can roll away sideways. Players won’t be able to step through the ruck to disrupt the opposition’s ball until the ball is cleared.

Tackler Assist: Referees will be looking at the tackler assist and wanting to make sure that the player is on his feet, is attacking the ball from his side of the ruck, but only after there has been “clear daylight” to demonstrate he has released the ball carrier and ball.

Clear daylight: Front rows are being asked not to “pre-engage” before scrums are set. Referees will be looking for a clear gap (clear daylight) between the front of both front rows, rather than the slight overlap of the front row heads before engagement.

Referees will also look for good stability after the scrum is set, and before the ball is fed, and they will penalise teams that push sideways instead of forwards.

Interfering with jumpers in the air will be targeted by referees who will be looking to make sure that only the ball carrier is sacked (targeted) and this must be immediate. Referees have been told to penalise defenders’ side entry to a maul, and not being bound properly to the maul.

Backline players will not be allowed to join the lineout maul until the lineout is over.

Not defending the line-out maul:
When defenders choose to not engage the maul:
• Players who leave the lineout will attract a penalty kick sanction for offside play.
• Defending team can attack ball carrier “from the side” (provided a team mate hasn’t already joined to form a maul)
• This player forms a maul, therefore the rest of his team mates need to enter from the back of the Maul
• If the ball is transferred and defending players are obstructed from getting to the ball carrier = scrum accidental obstruction

Referees will look to create and maintain the defensive offside lines at Set Piece – in particular 5m for backs at scrum; 10m for backs at line out. They’ll also focus on offside lines at ruck, and offside will be penalised.

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