Super Rugby Aotearoa starts tonight

Super rugby resumes this weekend after a suspension of the full competition due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but in a revamped local only competition as Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Tonight the Highlanders play the Chiefs in Dunedin. It is cold but dry here outside as well as under the roof. – I decided to go to the stadium to watch, a large crowd is expected.

It is the first rugby game in the world to be played in front of a crowd and broadcast since the Covid lockdown, and one of the few sports events taking place.

Tomorrow the Blues play the Hurricanes. The Crusaders have a bye first up.

Each team will play all other teams twice. It will be a tough competition, especially for the Highlanders who struggled at the start of the season before it was stopped.

They will be operating under some experimental rules.

Any drawn games will go to golden point extra time. Draws tend to be flat finishes.

Anyone red carded can’t come back on to the field during the game but can be replaced after 20 minutes. This is to try too reduce the unevenness of playing for a lot of the game with a player short.

And the change that interests me the most is an attempt to clean up the breakdown and make them more fair and even contests.

Breakdown interpretation expected to speed game up

Announced earlier this week among other innovations like golden point time and the ability to replace a red-carded player after 20 minutes, the existing breakdown laws will be applied stricter to create faster attacking ball and a fairer contest said New Zealand Rugby National Referee Manager Bryce Lawrence.

“Fans enjoy Investec Super Rugby because it’s a fantastic spectacle and our referees like to allow the game to flow. We’re confident we’ll see a contest that is faster, fairer, safer and easier to understand. We’re not changing the laws of the game, we’re being stricter about how we referee them,” Lawrence said.

“It’s just about learning to roll away east to west, rather than north to south,” Gareth Evans responded when asked about how he is dealing with the stricter application of the breakdown laws for the competition kicking off on Saturday June 13.

“A lot of turnovers these days aren’t actually from the person making the tackle it is from the next arriving player,” Evans said. “The tackler now pretty much just has to roll out and go side to side and can’t slow the ball down. If you are the jackler you only have one crack at the ball now.”

“It sort of slowed the game down a bit previously so it’s going to be different but I guess you’re going to have to be more precise on when you pick and choose. The referee is not focusing on who is holding onto the ball now, they are focusing on who is rolling away or who is not rolling away so they can award the penalty or not,” Evans said.

I think this is an overdue change. What has been happening is that the tackled player has been positioning themselves in front of the ball to protect it, often crabbing forward, and often keeping their hand on the ball which was illegal – the law has long said a tackled player must play the ball immediately and then can’t play it again.

I hope the referees are strict on this. The next players arriving at the tackle will be critical in securing the ball.

referees say they will also police the offside line much more strictly. Also overdue, it had become too easy to shut down attacking rugby.

Game details, news and teams:

It will be broadcast and streamed around the world: https://www.superrugby.co.nz/news/where-in-the-world-can-you-watch-investec-super-rugby-aotearoa/

Leave a comment

7 Comments

  1. Conspiratoor

     /  13th June 2020

    So much for the death knell of kiwi sport.
    The biggest crowd for a blues game in 15 years. Even dunners has pulled a crowd of 50,000 plus

    Jacindas lockdown is turning into a marketing wet dream for some

    Reply
    • I can think of few things I’d rather less do than watch sport, but I hope that the audience has a lovely time tonight, no matter who wins.

      For when the One Great Scorer comes
      To write against your name.
      He marks – not that you won or lost –
      But how you played the game.

      Grantland Rice

      Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  13th June 2020

    What a bugger. The replay won’t be shown on Freeview Prime until midday Sunday. That’s too late. Well stale by then. I liked it when they used to show games just 1 hour later. Somebody in super rugby aotearoa needs a slap around the ears.

    Reply
  3. duperez

     /  14th June 2020

    I learned from the game last night, well today I suppose, that I need to get in to Specsavers.

    In the Herald today, via Grant Miller of the Otago Daily Times: “A capacity crowd of more than 22,000 pressed into the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to watch the Highlanders beat the Hamilton-based Chiefs 28-27 in a match which had a thrilling finish.”

    I accept that sometimes there are empty seats because some who purchase tickets don’t attend. A capacity crowd pressed in there last night? Absolutely nowhere near it, or maybe my eyes are crook.

    Just checked … they’re okay! The videos accompanying the article show some of the significant unpeopled areas.

    Reply
    • I’ve seen various claims of attendance figures ranging from about 19,000 50 22,000. I suspect it was closer to 19,000 – there was a very good crowd, but there were near empty areas at both ends of both the main stands and the Zoo was about 3/4 full.

      It was still a very good turnout, it must be close to the most for a Super game.

      The weather was cold but good for the game, but heavy frosts inland may have deterred some from travelling. I had to scrape ice off the windscreen after leaving the game.

      Reply

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