Australian competition to experiment with rules

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 16:18 13/08/2014
NEW CONCEPT: The captains from the NRC clubs pose with the NRC trophy during the Official Launch of the National Rugby Championship.
Gettty Images

NEW CONCEPT: The captains from the NRC clubs pose with the NRC trophy during the Official Launch of the National Rugby Championship.

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People power has prompted the ARU to reduce points for penalty and drop goals for the National Rugby Championship in a major result for fans of running rugby.

Penalty and drop goals will only be worth two points, while conversions will be increased to three in one of several exciting new law variations which ARU chief Bill Pulver hopes will one day be adopted internationally.

''The points change was really designed to accentuate the way we want the game played - smart, creative running rugby,'' Pulver said today.

''So two points for a penalty goal, a field goal, three for a conversion. In effect, eight for a converted a try.

''So you'd like to think instead of key times in a game people kicking for goal, they'd kick for touch and play on.''

The nine-team, 11-week NRC kicks off tomorrow week when Brisbane City takes on the Sydney Stars in a classic Queensland-NSW cross-border clash at Ballymore in Brisbane.

Other law variations being trialled during the competition include:

- being able to kick to touch and continue with a lineout if a team is awarded a penalty after halftime or fulltime;

- time limits for scrum formation and kicks at goal;

- and instead of a four-try bonus-point system, the winning team being awarded a bonus point for finishing three or more tries ahead of their opponents.

''The rest are a pretty long list of local application or local interpretation, really again on one hand to maintain the key fabric or structure of the game but to see it played the way we want it played,'' Pulver said.

The points variation has been approved by the International Rugby Board and Pulver hopes the ARU can be a pioneer for global rule changes that will revolutionise and revitalise the game around the world.

''Their approval comes contingent on us giving them data at the end of the competition that allows them to analyse the impact,'' he said.

''You'd like to think some of them possibly go into a process of becoming international law changes.''

Earlier this year, the ARU engaged with rugby fans to identify what rules frustrated them most and what changes should be made to make viewing more appealing.

A staggering 600-plus suggestions were put forward from across Australia.

A panel of Australia's leading rugby minds, including former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer, ex-international referee Wayne Erickson, analyst and World Cup winner Rod Kafer and national coach Ewen McKenzie then shortlisted the suggestions for trial during the NRC.

''We did a lot of work with the public,'' Pulver said. ''Fans are very passionate about this.''

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