FNB Varsity Cup Announce New Innovative Rules To Increase “Ball In Play” Time


The Varsity Cup organisers have introduced new law innovations to ensure the game is played at a high pace during the 2023 season that will start on 20 February 2023. While the FNB Varsity Cup abides by the rules and regulations of the sport as determined by SA Rugby and World Rugby, the prestigious competition continues to lead the way in terms of rugby law innovation to improve the game.

The Varsity Cup, known for its law innovations to improve the game, has come up with a new law innovation in 2023 to add more ball in play time.
• Conversion kicks must be taken within 60 seconds after a try has been scored, if the kick is not taken in 60 seconds, then the team forfeits the opportunity/points.
• Once the conversion is taken, time will be stopped and will only restart once the kick-off takes place.
• When a penalty try is awarded, time will stop when the try is awarded and restarted with the kick-off
With an average of 8 tries per match, this could potentially add an additional 2.5 minutes to ball in play time.

In this season of Varsity Cup, a team can gain additional bonus points upon scoring a try from their own half.
• Team gained possession inside their own half that scores a try without conceding possession of the ball: Try worth 7 points- (5pts plus 2 bonus points)
*The Varsity Shield tournament DOES NOT use the point of origin try rule and a try from anywhere on the field remains 5 points.
A team in possession that kicks the ball indirectly into touch from inside his 50m gets a free kick 15m in from touch. That team may not take a scrum or lineout, they must take a tap kick. If that team scores from there, the try value will be 5 points. There is no requirement for a set phase inside your own half. A team may carry the ball back and kick it indirectly into touch inside the opposition’s half. If a team scores from the tap, the try value will be 5 points.

Any catch from any kick from the air (except from a kick for the start or restart of the match) means a free kick for the receiver right away. The receiver/defender doesn’t have to call anything.
The referee will play advantage, and have the ability to bring the play back to the point where the catch was made if the advantage has not been used and to award a free kick to the receiver’s team.
The receiver however does have the right to call a free kick like any other free kick in the 22, and to use it as such. Thus, it is exactly the same as a free kick in the 22 just extended to the rest of the field.
The mark law for the 22 stays the same. The free-kick is named a FREE CATCH.

Law: The “defending 9’s” offside line is limited to the tunnel where the shoulders of the opposing props meet.
Sanction: Penalty Kick
Aim: To create more time and space for the “attacking 9” to clear the ball at the base of a scrum.
Current Application: Currently the law allows the “defending 9” to follow but remain behind the ball as it is hooked in a scrum. He must also stay within 1m of the scrum. The “defending 9” may also retire to the hindmost foot of his teammate where he may then move further than 1m from the scrum. Lastly, he may retire to the backline, 5m away. He may not return to the offside line from which he has retired.

The Red Card Rule will work as follows:
If a red card is given to a player of a team: -
• That team will play for 15 minutes with one less player, the player given the red card will go off the field.
• After 15 minutes another player may go back on to the pitch, but not the player who was awarded the red card.
The main intention of this rule change is to the contest stays alive amidst an early game red card.

The White Card will be used in the televised semi-finals and final of Varsity Cup only.
The Team Coach or Captain can, during a stoppage in play, request the referee to review a decision they believe to be incorrect OR request him to review a possible infringement that went undetected and required an appropriate sanction.

The process for the scrum is the current sequence released by World Rugby for all competitions.

One strategy break per half for three minutes, between the 18th and 22nd minutes of matches, will be allowed. The strategy break only occurs in the FNB Varsity Cup, FNB Varsity Shield and FNB Young Guns competitions.

Every team must have 23 players in their match-day squad and must have two props and a hooker on the bench. The team that causes uncontested scrums must finish the game with 14 players. Front-row players must be replaced with other front-row players.

Try: 5 points
Drop goal: 3 points
Penalty goal: 3 points
Conversion: 2 points
Point of origin tries: 7 points

4 points for A WIN
2 points for A DRAW
0 points for A LOSS
One bonus point for losing within seven or fewer points.
One bonus point for four tries or more.
The maximum points a team can receive in a match are therefore five.

In the event of a default or where a team has forfeited the fixture, the offending team loses 28-0 and the non-offending team will receive maximum log points (5).