Commentary Box: New Power Play rule will shake things up in Varsity Cup

The Varsity Cup has also been known as a proverbial guinea pig for new ideas and rules in the SA rugby and the 2018 edition will be no different with the introduction of the Power Play rule.

The Power Play is an interesting concept that focuses on enhancing attacking play and doubling up on the excitement on offer. Teams will have the opportunity to remove any two nominated backline players from the opposition for a time period of three minutes per match. It can only be called once in a team’s own half and the captain must call for the Power Play to start.

Essentially the match will suddenly change into a 15 on 13 contest, giving a distinct advantage to the attacking team. If the team with 13 players score a try, they will be awarded two extra points for the try.

This new innovative rule will surely enhance attacking play and throw a spanner in the works, especially in tight games. Imagine the Varsity Cup final being level with 3 minutes to go, a Power Play is called and then suddenly the winning try is scored. That would be one for the history books.

The downside to this is that teams are still not rewarded for their defensive capabilities and only for their attacking prowess. Sure, going the attacking route seems the way to go in World Rugby, but in our country, defense is the major problem. Just look at the high Currie Cup and School’s rugby scores to see that defense has taken a step backward.

This Power Play initiative may be exciting and innovative, but I for one would like to see some reward for defensive stability. Defence does win championships and a good tackle is just as important as a flair-filled try.

If a side stops the opposition from scoring a try per half then they could gain 2 bonus points, for example. Maybe this could be something to look at for the 2019 edition.

In any case rugby lovers expect some interesting scenario’s and higher scorers in the 2018 Varsity Cup that kicks off on 29 January 2018.

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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