Super Rugby announce tweak to offside laws

The tactic deployed by teams which has resulted in 'kick tennis' has also been named after France scrum-half Antoine Dupont
©Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Super Rugby Pacific aims to promote increased counter-attacking opportunities from kicking situations by adjusting the offside regulations.

Under the existing rules, players can regain an onside position following a kick if either the ball is passed or the ball carrier advances five meters. Those conditions will be eliminated, resulting in defenders remaining offside until a teammate comes from behind the kicker or the kicker themselves puts them onside.

This tactic often results in extended periods of inactivity for players which we have witnessed in the Six Nations as well as the Gallagher Premiership. Receivers frequently choose to remain stationary before passing the ball back across the field, rather than advancing into the defensive line.

“We want to create a game that’s exciting for our fans and enjoyable for our players," Super Rugby Pacific Chair Kevin Malloy said. "Part of that is seeing our players running the ball rather than trading multiple kicks in a battle for territory. We’re listening to our fans and with the full support of New Zealand Rugby,

"Rugby Australia, and our coaches we’ve responded with a small change we think could make a big difference.

“Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that’s seen large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called kick tennis.

"We don’t believe that’s the spectacle our fans want to see in Super Rugby Pacific.

"We want to open up the opportunity for teams to counterattack with the ball in hand and we’re confident this tweak to the law will encourage that trend and encourage exciting, attacking rugby.”

The 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season will kick off on 23rd February when Chiefs will lock horns with Crusaders.