Super Rugby Pacific tweaks offside law to encourage counterattack.
Super Rugby Pacific will be encouraging teams to run the ball back after receiving kicks during the 2024 season after confirming a Law Innovation designed to discourage territorial kicking duels.
Super Rugby Pacific Chair Kevin Malloy said the change was a direct response to feedback from fans, coaches and players that they want to see running rugby.
“We want to create a game that’s exciting for our fans and enjoyable for our players. Part of that is seeing our players running the ball rather than trading multiple kicks in a battle for territory. We’re listening to our fans and with the full support of New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia, and our coaches we’ve responded with a small change we think could make a big difference.”
Rugby’s current offside laws include two clauses (under Law 10.7) that state players in front of the kicker can be put onside as soon as the kick receiver has either passed the ball or run five metres with the ball. Super Rugby Pacific’s Law Innovation will throw out those two clauses, meaning defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker, or the kicker themself. Approval for the Law Trial has been sought from World Rugby to run the change as a trial during the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.
“Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that’s seen large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called kick tennis. We don’t believe that’s the spectacle our fans want to see in Super Rugby Pacific. We want to open up the opportunity for teams to counterattack with the ball in hand and we’re confident this tweak to the law will encourage that trend and encourage exciting, attacking rugby.”
Malloy noted that Super Rugby Pacific had successfully introduced a number of other Law Innovations in recent years with great success, a decrease in dead time, cleaner clearance from scrums, quicker restarts from set-piece and after tries and less TMO interventions.
“We were really happy with the spectacle last year and hence we have only made one tweak to the laws for 2024. We want to keep building an exciting, fast moving brand of rugby that our fans want to watch.”