World Rugby has sanctioned law trials during two matches in Queensland next month as the game looks for ways to get faster and increase ball in play time.
A number of law innovations for the Queensland Challenger series – between a Reds Development Squad and a President’s XV – will be in effect, after a similar trial between NSW and ACT XVs last weekend
Changes to how the set-piece and ruck is time-managed and officiated will be trialled, as well as improved clarifications to deliberate knock-downs and advantage laws.
Time limits will be placed on removing the ball from the ruck, packing the scrum, taking penalties, restart and conversions, and delivering line-outs.
Wonky throws will only be penalised if the opposing team is contesting, while there will be no yellow cards for deliberate knock-downs and only three phases of advantage.
Rugby has been under the microscope from friends and foe this season, with issues over time wasting and a rash of yellow cards. The Springboks vs, Argentina Test last weekend featured 39 penalties, while Australia’s discipline has been a major issue with 12 cards in their nine Tests this year.
“What’s he supposed to do? He’s going for the ball and gets sent off,” said Wallabies fullback Andrew Kellaway. “As a fan I hate to see that – as a player I hate to see it.”
England’s Marcus Smith was carded in the same game for a similar incident.
“I think the game is out of control,” said coach Eddie Jones. “They went for intercepts. It doesn’t make any sense. Whenever you’re reaching for a ball, your hand’s open. If you’re going like that knocking the ball down, and that’s the deliberate knock on and that should be penalised. But that’s not the actions we saw today.”
Queensland Rugby Challenger Series Law Innovations
* Infringement against non-compliant team will result in a tap only option
Eg. No scrum option
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Top-tier referees Nic Berry and Damon Murphy will oversee the games on October 9 and 15.
The changes come after a round-table of Super Rugby officials earlier this year flagged issues with ball-in-play time and what was viewed as over-officiating.
“We saw this series as an opportunity to pick the best out of (the proposed rule alterations) that wouldn’t require fundamental changes to the game and allow the referee some scope for interpretation,” Reds football boss and former Wallaby Sam Cordingley told AAP.
“World Rugby will be analysing the games to see how potentially they can be brought in. There’s a fabric of the game you want to sustain.
“We are challenged in Australia in terms of popularity (with other codes) but they’re still selling out stadiums (around the world). There’s minor tweaks we can make and it’s just common sense.”
Safety concerns have been flagged by current Wallabies about the addition of a scrum clock but Cordingley is confident a 30-second notice after the mark is set will not be risky.
“The game is about fatigue and teams that are fitter and can play an 80-minute contest should be rewarded,” he said.
“What’s the argument? Wait until everyone’s fresh, then set the scrum? That’s nonsense, we have to speed this game up.”
The Queensland President’s XV and Queensland Reds Development squads were announced on Wednesday along with details of the trial.
Newly crowned Alec Evans medallist and StoreLocal Hospital Cup premiership winner Connor Anderson will join the Reds Development squad, with fellow Wests standout Cooper Whiteside also part of the Reds outfit.
Sam Wallis and Conor Mitchell (UQ), Joey Fittock (Bond University), Paddy James (Brothers), Phransis Sula-Siaosi (Souths), Conor Chittenden (Norths), Taine Riori and Matt Smit (Easts) will also feature for the Queensland Development team in the two-game series.
Presidents XV head coach Simon Craig has selected a strong 24-man squad, with Wests’ Ethan Dobbins, Latu Talakai and Ben Navosailagi named as a three-pronged contingent from the premiership winners.
GPS stalwart Michael Richards has been named in the backrow, while the likes of Eli Pilz (Easts), Tyler Campbell (Bond University), Brad Twidale (UQ), Tom Lucas (Sunnybank) and Tayler Adams (Brothers) will also have the opportunity to test themselves at the next level.
Craig said: “We’re excited about the group we’ve put together.
“All have earned their opportunity with their performances in club Rugby, and we’re looking forward to seeing them come together as a group.
“It’s a great initiative by the QRU to provide these players the opportunity to take the next step in the Queensland Rugby pathway.”
24 of the 49 players selected have Queensland country roots, including Kye Oates (Darling Downs), Pat Morrey (Far North Queensland), Louis Werchon (Sunshine Coast) and Joey Fittock (Gold Coast).
The series will kick off at Sunnybank Rugby Union Club on Sunday 9 September, in what shapes as a festival of Representative Rugby for Queensland fans.
The Queensland U16s and U19s teams will face their New South Wales counterparts in the opening round of the newly announced National Championships, while the Queensland U15s team will go up against the Waratahs after last week’s Buildcorp Emerging Reds Cup.
The following weekend will see Easts Rugby Union Club play host to the second and final game of the Challenger Series, with the squad for Queensland’s Japan Tour announced the week after.
Queensland will play sister-state club Panasonic Saitama Wild Knights in Saitama on Friday 4 November, as well as a non-capped warm-up match against the Kubota Spears the week prior. Both matches will be played at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium.
Sunday 9 October – Sunnybank Rugby Club
11.30am – Queensland Reds U15s v New South Wales Waratahs U15s
1.00pm – Queensland Reds U16s v New South Wales Waratahs U16s
2.30pm – Queensland Reds U19s v New South Wales Waratahs U19s
4.00pm – Queensland Reds Development v Queensland President’s XV
Saturday 15 October – Easts Rugby Union Club
3.00pm – Queensland Reds Development Vs Queensland President’s XV
Queensland President’s XV Squad
Alex Smit – Easts
Connor Pritchard – Bond University – Gold Coast
Ethan Dobbins – Wests
Jake Upfield – Bond University – Gold Coast
Jonte Connolly – Brothers – Caboolture
JP Tominiko – Easts – Gold Coast
Latu Talakai – Wests
Levi Samuela – Bond University – Gold Coast
Maile Ngauamo – GPS
Michael Richards – GPS
Pat Morrey – University of Queensland – Far North Queensland
Rhys Sheriff – Bond University – Gold Coast
Zac Shepherd – Easts
Ben Navosailagi – Wests
Brad Twidale – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
Dan Boardman – Bond University – Gold Coast
Eli Pilz – Easts – Sunshine Coast
Jordan Carriera – Easts
Kye Oates – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
Louis Werchon – Brothers – Sunshine Coast
Meli Dreu – Easts
Sam Hyne – Brothers
Tayler Adams – Brothers
Tom Lucas – Sunnybank
Tyler Campbell – Bond University – Gold Coast
Queensland Reds Development Squad
Angus Blyth – Bond University – Gold Coast
Connor Anderson – Wests
Conor Mitchell – University of Queensland – Sunshine Coast
Dane Zander – University of Queensland
George Blake – Bond University – Gold Coast
Keynan Tauakipulu – Wests
Matt Faessler – Brothers – Darling Downs
Phransis Sula-Siaosi – Souths – Gold Coast
Sam Wallis – University of Queensland
Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland – Beaudesert
Taine Riori – Easts
Wilson Blyth – Bond University – Gold Coast
Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – Gold Coast
Conor Chittenden – Norths
Cooper Whiteside – Wests
Joey Fittock – Bond University – Gold Coast
Josh Flook – Brothers
Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland
Lawson Creighton – Brothers
Mac Grealy – University of Queensland – Darling Downs
Matt Smit – Easts
Paddy James – Brothers
Spencer Jeans – Bond University – Gold Coast
Tom Lynagh – University of Queensland