New rules in Super Rugby: how and when the captain can request the TMO

New rules in Super Rugby: how and when the captain can request the TMO

The Super Rugby announced new rules for version 2021: although they will not be the same for Australia and New Zealand, with small variations. Without a doubt, the most attractive will be the creation of the “Captain’s Referral”, which will be used in the Aotearoa.


There will be two new rules that will be introduced in New Zealand, plus a variation in overtime, to be used for the first time when preseason matches begin this weekend, three weeks before the Rugby Aotearoa season begins on Friday, February 26.

The first has to do with the resumption with a drop from the ingoal to start the plays again after stuck balls or knock-ons inside the ingoal or canceled balls (it was already happening in Australia).

The second, “Captain’s Referral”, means that each captain has one opportunity per game to ask the referee to have the Television Match Official (TMO) check for an infraction in the run-up to a try, or to review foul play.

  • Captains will have 10 seconds to make their recommendation after a try has been awarded.

  • The TMO will be able to return to the last stop in play, regardless of how many phases have been played.

  • Foul play referrals may be made after any stoppage in play if the captain believes that the match officials have not done so.

  • The captain must refer to “specific” incidents or infractions.

  • Images must be ‘clear and obvious’ for a referral to be maintained.

  • The scrum and the lineout are not included in the recommendation process.

If the reference captain is correct, he will keep his reference, but if the referee’s original decision stands, or the TMO images are not ‘clear and obvious’, the captain loses his reference.

The captain’s reference will be applied more broadly from the 75 minute mark in any match, at which point the captain, provided he has not already lost his reference, can use it to verify the decision of any referee, regardless of if a try has been scored.

NZR High Performance Chief Mike Anthony said the goal of the law variations was to make the game more appealing to both players and fans.

“We are constantly looking for how we can make the game faster and fairer for the players, and a better show for the fans, and we hope that the abandonment of the goal line and the recommendation of the captain will help achieve those goals in 2021. “

The reason for introducing defection at the goal line was to reward attacking teams by allowing them to generate pressure and encourage defending teams to clear the ball from their in-goal area, Anthony said.

“We have had great support for this innovation from coaches and players and we are confident that it will be popular with fans.

“The current rule of restarting from a 22-meter abandonment often pushes the receiving team towards their own half and we believe that teams will be more likely to counterattack from a goal-line abandonment, which in turn generates more pressure from attack and hopefully more tries. “

NZR national umpire manager Bryce Lawrence said the captain’s referral would lead players into the on-field decision-making process, make the game safer by adding another level of scrutiny to foul play, and mitigate the risk of that the matches are decided in the final stages by a player due to the incorrect call of the referee.

“We think the captain’s recommendation is a no-brainer. Nobody wants to see a match defined in a wrong decision, particularly in the final minutes, and especially in a competition as close and close as Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa was in 2020.

“When a game goes down the wire and depends on the decision of a referee, everyone wants to make sure we get a positive result.

“Rugby is a fast-paced and sometimes complex game, so another set of eyes is always a good thing. We have seen this type of concept succeed in other sports and we want to see how it works when applied to rugby. “

The third variant in New Zealand, will be that in case of a tie, the match in overtime (a time of 10 minutes) will be won by the first team to score points.


In the country of the Wallabies, unlike New Zealand, in the event of a tie in Overtime (two 5-minute halves) the team that scores a try will win. The other novelty is that there will be a maximum of 30 seconds to execute the 22-meter or half-court starts. In case of exceeding that time, there will be a free kick for the rival team.


  • In both competitions, the player who receives a red card may be replaced after 20 minutes.

  • Australia will maintain the 50/22 rule, which states that if a team kicks from their court and the ball spikes within 22 yards of the opposing team and leaves the court, the line-out will be executed by the same team that kicked. The same if you kick from 22 and bite in the middle of the court (22/50). This will not be implemented in New Zealand.

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