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Goal-line drop-outs and 50:22 law to be trialled in Australia's NRC

The new season kicks off on 31 August.

Under the law trial, the defensive team will get a drop-out after holding up the attacking team.
Under the law trial, the defensive team will get a drop-out after holding up the attacking team.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL RUGBY Championship will trial two new laws in its upcoming 2019 season, with goal-line drop-outs and 50:22 kicks set to feature.

The fascinating law trials are highly likely to change the shape of the game in this year’s NRC, which kicks off on Saturday 31 August.

World Rugby has yet to officially approve the trials, with their executive committee due to meet tomorrow.

The first NRC trial aims to reward defensive teams and also reduce the instances of attacking teams hammering at the tryline with pick-and-go after pick-and-go.

Essentially, the defence will be given a goal-line drop-out when the ball is held up in their in-goal area. 

Under current World Rugby laws, the attacking team would be given a five-metre scrum in this scenario.

So if the attack crashes over the tryline but cannot ground the ball – instead being held up – the defence will take a drop-out from their own goal line.

Meanwhile, the 50:22 kick aims to reduce the numbers of defenders stacked in the frontline further out the field, therefore creating more space for the attacking team.

If a team kicks the ball from their own half – either during play or from a free-kick – and it bounces infield before rolling into touch inside the opposition’s 22, the kicking team will receive an attacking lineout.

Under current World Rugby laws, the defending team would receive the lineout throw in this case.

Rugby Australia says it is keen to reward “aggressive territorial kicking with defending backs having to cover the option of a 50:22 kick.”

World Rugby will consider bringing the 50:22 law into more competitions after this year’s World Cup, so the trial in the NRC will be watched closely. 

The Australian competition, which is essentially the tier below Super Rugby, gets underway in five weekends’ time as the Fijian Drua look to defend their 2018 title.

The Drua have been a major success since joining the NRC, aiding Fiji’s improvement in Test rugby.

- This article was updated at 12.43pm to reflect the fact that World Rugby has yet to officially approve the trials.

- This article was updated on 1 August after clarification from Rugby Australia that the 50:22 law does not also relate to kicks that bounce into touch inside the oppositions’ half.

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Murray Kinsella

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