Varsity Cup

World Rugby 'excited' by Varsity Cup changes

Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)
Jurie Roux (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Nobody can accuse the Varsity Cup of being afraid of change!

The 2016 tournament will see the introduction of seven and nine point tries, which were clarified at Monday's launch in Cape Town. 

It is all down to where possession started. 

If a side scores a try having won possession inside the opponent's 22m area, then they will be awarded five points - as per usual. 

If possession started between the opponent's 22m line and the halfway line, then seven points will be awarded for the try. 

And if a side scores a try after having won possession in their own half then they will be awarded nine points for the try. 

As was the case last year, all conversions will be worth three points.

A new spell of possession will start after every break in play - which includes scrums and lineouts.

If a side wins a penalty and then sets up a lineout, the points allocation for a try will be determined from where the lineout took place and not where the original penalty was awarded. 

But if the attacking side opts to 'tap and go' from their penalty, then they will be allowed to carry on their movement without having their point of possession changed. 

The changes have been implemented in the aim of promoting attacking and running rugby, but the possibility for some bizarre scenarios does exist. 

For example, if a side is 11 points down with 30 seconds left on the clock and they win a penalty in the opposition half, will they kick the ball backwards and set up a lineout inside their own half? That would be their only hope of winning as a 9-point try and 3-point conversion would put them ahead. 

It's all a bit confusing, but it has the attention of World Rugby. 

"The thing is that we’re trying to look at it from a positive point of view to say that we want entertaining rugby ... something that people enjoy watching," Varsity Cup chairperson and SARU CEO Jurie Roux told Sport24.

"There is always going to be the possibility of something negative happening and obviously the purists saying ‘this is not rugby anymore and it’s changed’ ... but we are trying to innovate and change and if it doesn’t work then we’ll stop it. But we have got to give it the best opportunity to work."

According to Roux, SARU did not have to 'sign off' on any of the tournament rules. 

"We’re not involved in any way or form. When we started Varsity Cup and started experimenting with rules we went to World Rugby and asked for an exemption to try new things," he said.

"We always give feedback to World Rugby on all of the innovations that we are trying.

"They obviously know about it, they’re excited about it.

"As you will see in the law changes they’re now trying a white card ... they’re trying two referees in their law variations that are being tested in the UK, which are all innovations from Varsity Cup."

This year's Varsity Cup kicks off on Monday, February 8.

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