Goal-kicking ‘shot clock’ set for Gallagher Premiership debut this weekend in bid to speed up game

Speeding up the game: Goal kickers will now have 90 seconds to complete their efforts or else be timed out  (Getty Images)
Speeding up the game: Goal kickers will now have 90 seconds to complete their efforts or else be timed out (Getty Images)

Rugby will attempt to hit the fast-forward button through boring stoppages this weekend as a goal-kicking shot clock is employed for the first time.

Gallagher Premiership matches will display a 90-second countdown – intended to be on a big screen – for kicks at goal.

The Six Nations should follow suit a week later, though details are still being ironed out for both iterations. Kickers will have 90 seconds from the decision to strike at goal to complete their attempt, or be timed out.

London Irish's Premiership derby clash with Harlequins in Brentford on Sunday will play host to the new initiative, designed to speed up the game and cut out needless breaks in play.

"I’m all over it, I’m all over it," said Exiles defence coach Brad Davis. "I think we need to speed up the in-between moments in games.

"Move the game on. Speeding up the game in those aspects will fatigue players, we’ll have to play quicker, we’ll have to set up quicker, which will then create space at the back-end of games as well.

"I probably shouldn’t say that as a defence coach, but that will open up the game a little bit more. Anything that we can do to speed up the game in those aspects is a positive. We’ve tried to quicken up the game in our training sessions as preparation."

Twickenham will see the shot clock in action on February 4 for the Six Nations opener against Scotland if tournament bosses sharpen plans in time as expected.

The shot clock numbers among World Rugby's plans to speed up the sport, with global chiefs telling referees to prize "ball in flow" time - that is meaningful action over simple ball in play.

Traditionally kickers receive a respectful hush from English crowds, but Davis believes all that could change – especially in the last 10 seconds of a countdown.

“I can imagine at some grounds there will be a 10 second to zero countdown going on," said Davis. "As long as it's respectful and there's no booing it could work well. I’d rather have noise while I was goal-kicking.

"When it’s dead quiet, in the middle of a golf shot or a tennis serve, and someone makes a noise, it spooks them completely. You only hear that one voice and it could be enough to break your concentration. The quieter it is, sometimes the spookier it is."