WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Hybrid rules including goal-line dropouts and red card replacements will be retained in an Australia-New Zealand combined Super Rugby tournament which begins on Friday.
The rules, departing from rugby’s usual laws which don’t allow players who've received red cards to be replaced during matches and require dropouts from the 22-meter line, were used in the separate Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby competitions which concluded with finals last weekend.
Other rule variations failed to win the joint support of Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby.
The system of captain’s referrals which was used in the New Zealand competition, allowing team captains to bring potential infringements from opposing teams to the attention of the referee, will not be used in the six-week trans-Tasman tournament.
Extra time won’t be used during the regular season but golden-point or tiebreaker extra time will be used in the final, if the scores are level at the end regulation time.
Teams will take two points each from draws in regular-season matches.
Australia also used 22/50 or 50/22 rules to reward accurate tactical kicking but that rule won’t be applied in the combined competition. Nor will golden try extra-time, in which a try rather than a penalty goal or dropped goal is needed to break a scoring deadlock.
The Dunedin-based Highlanders will play Australian champions the Queensland Reds in the opening match of the tournament in Dunedin on Friday, and the New South Wales Waratahs will play the Wellington-based Hurricanes in Sydney.
The tournament will comprise 25 regular season matches involving the five Super Rugby teams from each country, before the top two teams meet in the final on June 19.
International competition in Super Rugby hasn’t been possible since pandemic border closures resulted in the shelving of the five-nation tournament in March last year.
Australia and New Zealand have played domestic tournaments in each of the last two seasons. But a new travel “bubble” — or open border between Australia and New Zealand — has made a combined competition possible.
Queensland won the 2021 Australian domestic title and the Christchurch-based Crusaders won the New Zealand tournament, claiming a Super Rugby title for the fifth consecutive year.
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