The instruction to referees to “be stricter” has had a major impact in the first round of Super 14 action with 153 points scored from penalties.
Gerdie Karstens writes for Sport24 that t’s an increase of 240% on the 45 points that were scored via penalties in the opening round of last year’s competition.
The number of penalties (51) is virtually 3.5 times (340%) more than the 15 of last year.
The number of tries has also decreased, with 30 tries scored in last weekend’s seven Super 14 games against last year’s 44 in the first round.
The instruction to “be stricter” is aimed at making the game a better spectacle, but it has had the opposite effect in the opening round, with points mostly scored from kicks.
South African Rugby Union (SARU) referees manager André Watson said that referees would not change their approach. Rather, it is the teams that will have to adapt.
Referees that are blowing in the international competition were schooled on a number of aspects in the pre-season.
The application of the so-called daylight law at the breakdowns, better management of the scrums and observing of off-side at tactical kicks were all implemented to promote the quality of the rugby.
“The players will have to adapt to the laws because the referees will certainly not ease up in their application,” said Watson.
“We had a tele-conference with New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday morning and all of us were generally pleased with the referees’ performances. We even got good feedback from the public.”
Timing at the scrums and the chasing of tactical kicks are being policed, but it’s the breakdown law that is especially being strictly applied.
In the past the tackler could play the ball immediately, provided that he was on his feet.
Now he has to give the attacking team a fair chance of placing the ball before competing. There has to be daylight between his hands and the ball.
“It stops unlawful contesting of the ball. Many players compete for the ball at the breakdown in an effort to slow it down and not to try and win possession,” said Watson.
The shift in emphasis at the breakdown will force players to stay on their feet and they will not be able to dive in as they did in the past.