Rugby-Red card replacements, goal-line drop-outs retained for Trans-Tasman competition

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand have agreed to retain replacements for red-carded players and goal-line drop-outs in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition after trialling the rule innovations in domestic seasons, organisers said on Monday.

Goal-line drop-outs, introduced in Australia's Super Rugby AU competition last year, replace the conventional 22 metre drop-out after an attacking player is held up or knocks the ball on in the in-goal area.

The goal-line drop-outs, also awarded when an attacking kick is grounded by the defending team in their in-goal area, are intended to speed the game up by encouraging teams to counter-attack.

Red-carded players will also be able to be replaced after 20 minutes, retaining the rule change introduced in New Zealand's Super Rugby Aotearoa last year.

"The goal line drop-out has proven it is fit for purpose and it has allowed for greater ball in play time compared to a five-metre scrum," said Rugby Australia's Director of Rugby Scott Johnson in a statement.

"We have seen the red card replacement serve its purpose too in ... Super Rugby AU, and while we never want to see red cards, we now know that it doesn’t have the potential to ruin a close contest."

However, the competition between teams from both sides of the Tasman Sea will not use the "golden point" system during the round robin stage of the season if matches are drawn after 80 minutes.

The golden point system, which awarded victory for the first team to score points in a 10-minute period of extra time, will only be employed for the June 19 final.

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman kicks off on Friday with the Otago Highlanders hosting Super Rugby AU champion Queensland Reds in Dunedin in the first leg of a double-header.

The New South Wales Waratahs play the Wellington Hurricanes at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the second leg.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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