Continue experimenting with the Varsity Cup

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The Varsity Cup has become rugby’s experimental playground with a number of laws having been trialled in the format. SA Rugby needs to keep up this trend.

Over the course of the last couple of years – SA Rugby has introduced a number of experiments in the Varsity Cup and this year is no different.


Here are 4 they are trialling this year’s competition.

1. Crouch, touch, slide

The new scrum engagement call is going to see us move away from crouch, touch, set to crouch, touch, slide. Along with a move from the more “aggressive” call of hit – props will have to establish a bind and line up ear to ear before engaging. Just for the record I hate this idea; it over feels like a complication of something that desperately needs to be simplified.

2. Tries

Tries are going to be worth 5 points as a standard but then depending on where they are scored – the attacking team could record up to 4 bonus points. If the attacking team scores from between the defending team’s half and 22 – they are awarded 7 and between their own 22 and half – 9. This should lead to far higher scores and a premium focus on tries.

3. White Card

Much like DRS is cricket – the white card will allow the on field captain to challenge the ref’s decision and is limited to one review per half.

4. Maul

If a maul is moving sideways or backwards – a ref will give the attacking team 5 seconds to try and get it moving forward after which it’ll be the usual use it lose it.

So that’s what is currently in place – but what about what we could do?

Let’s take a closer look.

1. TMO Machine

Rugby can learn plenty from one of the best sport’s leagues in the world – the NFL (see our previous post on this very subject) – and the on field review system is one such example. In a nutshell, a review booth is installed next to the field and if the ref has any uncertainty he can review things there and then. There is still room for a TMO for more serious issues but this could also have a role to play.

2. Team Referee

The Varsity Cup has previously experimented with 2 refs and this is something they should look to continue with and expand on.

3. Safety

Here’s a wacky idea. If an attacking team manages to tackle a player back over their own goal line – the attacking team is awarded 1 or 2 points before going to a 22 drop out. Will lead to teams getting far better at exiting their own red zone.

4. Ref Review System

This would probably never happen but wouldn’t it be great if a referees performance was rated after the game and placed onto some sort of leader board? Points can be awarded on accuracy, fairness and some other factors and the best referee can be awarded with the whistle come knock out time.

There you have it sports fans – 4 experimental laws that the Varsity Cup should play around with. Some practical some not so much but the bottom line is that I feel we should maintain our experimental mindset. What’s your thoughts? Any others you’d like to see included?

As always – hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or a comment below and let the banter begin!

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