Kiwis to trial two on-field refs

NZRU (File)
NZRU (File)

Cape Town - Two referees will officiate together during New Zealand's national provincial championship next year, the Stuff.co.nz website reports.

The system is part of World Rugby's proposed law changes, to which the New Zealand Rugby Union has agreed. The news come after unions asked the consent of the respective clubs to have the new laws tested in the premier competition.

Unlike South Africa's Varsity Cup, where the dual-referee system saw each official take charge of one half of the field, the second on-field ref will be primarily used in New Zealand to police the new offside line, which will be moved one metre back from a redefined ruck.

Current laws state a ruck is formed when a player from each team are on their feet over the ball. Now the word 'ruck' will be replaced by 'breakdown', which will be formed when just one attacking player is over the ball on the ground.

Once a breakdown is formed, no one player from either side will be able to play at the ball with their hands, but they will be able to enter the breakdown from any angle as long as they have come from an onside position.

That will bring an end to the penalisable offence of 'side entry' with the hope less penalties are conceded.

There are five proposed law changes in total:

1. Two on-field referees

2. Removal of the 'gate' entry at the breakdown

3. Tackler and arriving players can enter from midpoint of breakdown as long as they come from an onside position

4. Tackler no longer has 360 degree rights to the ball

5. Offside lines one metre behind hindmost foot at breakdown

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