New scrum rules adopted for Rugby Champs
The All Blacks will get first crack at the IRB's new scrum engagement process during the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Sanzar announced today they were adopting the new "crouch, bind, set" engagement process for their four-nation competition which gets under way on August 17.
The International Rugby Board announced a global trial of the new process to commence at the start of the next seasons in the respective hemispheres, but Sanzar have jumped in early so as to get test teams up to speed ahead of their November tours.
It's hoped the new process will lessen the impact of the engagement by around 25 percent which as well as enhancing player welfare should also help reduce the amount of scrum resets in a problematic area of the game.
"It will mean our international players will have been exposed to the new engagement process prior to heading north in November where this process will have been in place since the start of that season in September," said Sanzar CEO Greg Peters.
"Player welfare is of utmost importance and we feel the global trial is taking positive steps to improve this area of the game."
Sanzar also confirmed 23-man squads, with the extra front-row reserve, would continue in the Rugby Championship.
Meanwhile the IRB announced its referee appointments for the Rugby Championship, and also confirmed a new policy of having neutral TMOs for the competition.
South African referee Craig Joubert will take charge of the opening match between the All Blacks and Australia in Sydney on August 17, and will thus become the first official to call the new scrum sequence at test level.
Kiwi Chris Pollock will take charge for the other clash of the opening round between South Africa and Argentina in Soweto, while the All Blacks have Jaco Peyper for their return match against the Wallabies in Wellington on August 24, Frenchman Jerome Garces for their matchup against Argentina on September 7 in Hamilton and France's Romain Poite for the test against South Africa at Eden Park on September 14.
The last two All Black tests, in Argentina and South Africa, will be refereed by Peyper and Wales' Nigel Owens, while Joubert will take charge for the third (non-Rugby Championship) Bledisloe Cup clash in Dunedin on October 19.
The IRB has decided to extend the TMO to neutral status to reflect the growing powers the television official now has in the game.
At present, under laws being trialled, the TMO can review up to two phases before an act of scoring, and also rule on any acts of foul play.
"The neutral policy further enhances integrity and reduces pressure on the person tasked with this important role while ensuring that we continue to promote and appoint our very best TMOs to test matches," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.
The full list of referees for the Rugby Championship is: Craig Joubert (SA), Chris Pollock (NZ), Jaco Peyper (SA), Steve Walsh (Aus), Alain Rolland (Ire), Jerome Garces (Fra), George Clancy (Ire), Romain Poite (Fra), Nigel Owens (Wales) and Wayne Barnes (Eng).
Rugby championship appointments:
Aug 17: Aus v NZ, Sydney (Referee: Craig Joubert; Touch judges: Jaco Peyper, Lourens van der Merwe); SA v Arg, Soweto (Chris Pollock; Pascal Gauzere, John Lacey).
Aug 24: NZ v Aus, Wellington ((Jaco Peyper; Craig Joubert, Lourens van der Merwe); Arg v SA, Mendoza (Steve Walsh; John Lacey, Pascal Gauzere).
Sept 7: Aus v SA, Brisbane (Alain Rolland; George Clancy, Glen Jackson); NZ v Arg, Hamilton (Jerome Garces; Romain Poite, James Leckie).
Sept 14: Aus v Arg, Perth (George Clancy; Alain Rolland, Glen Jackson); NZ v SA, Auckland (Romain Poite; Jerome Garces, Francisco Pastrana).
Sept 28: SA v Aus, Cape Town (Jerome Garces; Nigel Owens, Pascal Gauzere); Arg v NZ, La Plata (Jaco Peyper; Wayne Barnes, Leighton Hodges).
Oct 5: SA v NZ, Jo'burg (Nigel Owens; John Lacey, Greg Garner); Arg v Aus, Rosario (Wayne Barnes; Jaco Peyper, Leighton Hodges).