New laws aimed at keeping the game invigorated will be implemented in this year's ITM Cup, Heartland Championship and women's competition as part of a global trial of new IRB laws.
The new laws - part of a suite of rules being trialled around the world - include a five-second time limit on playing the ball once it is available at the back of a ruck, a time limit on when conversions must be completed after a try is scored, the positioning of a quick throw-in, expanding the short-arm penalty options for teams benefitting from a knock-on or throw forward into touch and teams awarded a penalty or free kick at a lineout may choose another lineout without first having to kick for touch.
The changes also include a new scrum engagement call which will see referees call "crouch, touch, set".
The laws, effective from today, will get their first real test when the ITM Cup kicks off on August 23, when new ITM Premiership entrants the Hawke's Bay Magpies host Auckland at Napier's McLean Park.
This year's 15-round ITM Cup runs over 10 weeks including seven mid-week rounds. The competition retains the Premiership (top seven teams) and Championship (bottom seven) format with teams playing every other province within their Premiership/Championship as well as four crossover matches for full competition points. For each team, that means 10 matches (five home, five away) during the regular season.
The ITM Cup Premiership and Championship semifinals are scheduled for October 19-20, with the finals to be held on October 26-27.
The women's competition final will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Premiership Final.
- © Fairfax NZ News