SYDNEY (Reuters) - Rugby Australia have borrowed heavily from rugby league with seven law variations intended to improve the spectacle for fans when the Super Rugby AU competition begins next month.
Super Rugby, rugby union's premier Southern Hemisphere competition, was cancelled this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Australia and New Zealand holding domestic versions instead.
Versions of the goal-line dropout and 40-20 rules used in league, the more popular version of rugby in Australia, have been introduced for the Australian competition and referees will be instructed to strictly police the breakdown as well as limit the number of scrum resets.
If a match ends in a draw after 80 minutes, two further periods of five minutes will be played with the first team to score taking the win.
More controversially, teams will be able to replace red-carded players after 20 minutes.
A majority of red cards are shown for dangerous tackles that make contact with the head, offences that World Rugby are determined to erase from the game.
The global governing body have, however, approved the law variations, which were drawn up by a committee after consultation with coaches and players.
"We assembled some of the best minds in the game from a range of different roles to look at adding some new attacking dimensions to the game," RA's director of rugby Scott Johnson said in statement.
A majority of the variations concern the kicking game, with the attacking team rewarded with the lineout throw for finding touch inside the opposition's 22 metre line from inside their own half (50-22).
Defending teams will also get the lineout throw if they kick the ball into touch in the opposition half from their own 22 (22-50). Defending players will no longer be able to take a "mark" if they catch a kick inside their 22.
As in rugby league, the defending team will have to drop-kick the ball from their own goal line if one of their players is tackled in possession in the in-goal area.
The 12-week, five team Super Rugby AU competition kicks off on July 3.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Lincoln Feast.)