Change in scoring system may mean less focus on Jonny and fellow fly-halfs

The usual post-RWC tinkering with the laws has begun, the IRB agreeing to experiment with the point-scoring system, writes Paul Morgan.

The IRB have granted permission for South Africa’s Varsity Cup Rugby to adopt a system where conversions will be worth three points and penalties and drop-goals just two.

That means four penalties will equal a converted try so the competition – which consists of the FNB Varsity Cup, Varsity Shield, Varsity Young Guns and the Steinhoff Koshuis Rugby Championships – will come under a global spotlight when it starts on 30 January.

“Our intention with this trial is to cement a culture of try scoring in the Varsity Cup Rugby properties. After all, rugby is about entertainment, and tries are entertaining,” says Varsity Cup MD Duitser Bosman. “At the same time, the importance of the kicker must always be respected and that’s why we’ve increased the value of the conversion, giving teams something of a ‘bonus’ to aim for.”

The first set of laws in 1890 gave the try one point, a drop-goal three and a goal from a mark three. The current system was introduced in 1992 when a try was raised from four to five points. The Varsity Cup has previously trialled the use of white cards and demonstrated some of the IRB’s experimental law variations.

South African referees manager André Watson says: “We have a great relationship with the Varsity Cup when it comes to experimenting with good ideas. We’ll brief the coaches and referees in late January and we’ll have to upskill everyone and be aware of the potential pitfalls.

“One would think this experiment would lead to more tries, but you’d also imagine that a few more penalties will be conceded on purpose. The exciting part is that we’ll soon see how this works out.”

This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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