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Ferris In Favour Of Just One Of Three Rainbow Cup Experimental Laws

Ferris In Favour Of Just One Of Three Rainbow Cup Experimental Laws
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Stephen Ferris is in favour of just one of the law variations which are being adopted for the upcoming Pro14 Rainbow Cup.

Red card replacements, a captain's challenge and goalline drop-outs are already being trialled in Super Rugby competitions and will be used when the Rainbow Cup gets underway later this month.

During the Rainbow Cup, players who received red cards can be replaced by a substitute after 20 minutes.

"A red card means you're sent off and you don't come back on - nobody comes back on," former Ireland international Ferris told The Buildup with Ladbrokes.

"Calling it a red card is stupidity! Call it an orange card, an amber card, because it's not a red card!

"Does this law that's being brought in mean we're going to see even more red cards? The 50/50 decisions now, referees are going 'Jeez, I don't want to give a red card. It's such a big game, and he's going to be off in the 20th minute. There's a yellow card'.

"Now, a referee is thinking, 'That's a red card. Somebody else can come on after 20 minutes'. That player will now probably get banned for three weeks."


Ferris believes that introducing a captain's challenge is unnecessary as calls on the pitch are already questioned by players.

"The captains challenge every single call at the minute!" said Ferris.


"It doesn't change much. A try scored in the corner, and next thing - I'll use Johnny Sexton as an example - he's over going, 'Can you check the grounding on that? You need to check the grounding on that. There might have been a forward pass in there as well'.

"If anything, it will slow the game down a bit more, which is something we want to stay away from."

Ferris is in favour of goalline drop-outs replacing the 5m scrum.


"The dropout is brilliant," he said.

"There's nothing worse for the viewer than sitting watching 5m scum after 5m scrum. Then someone's held up and you're back to a 5m scrum.

"Most out-halves will be able to drop-kick it close to the halfway line. You'll see it caught by somebody in the backfield, given to a huge ball carrier who'll make it up close to the 22m line. We'll see more attacking phase play, and I'm all for that.


"If you can't get the ball down over the line, then I don't think you should be rewarded with a 5m scrum."

The new law variations will work as follows:

Replacement for red card player after 20 minutes

For red cards the offending player will be removed from the field for 20 minutes. After this time the team can replace this player with one of their nominated substitutes. The player who is given the red card will not be able to return to the pitch.


Just like the awarding of a yellow card, the 20 minutes will be measured in ‘game time’ meaning that the clock will not run during stoppages in play. The Red Card Replacement law will also apply to players who receive two yellow cards (which results in an automatic red).

Players who have been substituted for tactical reasons may be used to replace a player who has received a red card. The usual replacement laws continue to apply in that a replaced player may return for an injured front rower, injury due to foul play, HIA or blood.

Captain’s challenge

The Captain’s Challenge is aimed at enhancing the accuracy of decisions already under the remit of the match officials. Each team is allowed one captain’s challenge in the match. These can be used for try-scoring and foul play incidents, or to challenge any refereeing decision in the last five minutes of a match.

The challenge will be referred to the TMO who will review the footage with the match referee making the final decision. If a challenge is successful, then the team keeps their challenge but if it is unsuccessful then the team loses the challenge. Challenges can only be made up to 20 seconds after the referee has blown his whistle for a stoppage in play and only incidents from the last passage of play can be challenged.

Prior to the 75-minute mark, the Captain’s Challenge can only be used to check for an infringement in the lead up to a try or to review foul play. The Captain’s Challenge will be applied more broadly from the 75-minute mark in any match at which point the captain, provided they have not already lost their Challenge, can use it to check any whistled decision regardless of whether a try has been scored. Injury time is included in the post 75-minute period.

- TMOs will be able to go back to the last stoppage in play, regardless of how many phases have been played

- Foul play challenges can be made after any stoppage in play if the captain believes foul play has been missed by the match officials

- Captains must reference ‘specific’ incidents or infringements

- Footage must be ‘clear and obvious’ for a challenge to be upheld

- Captains cannot refer a scrum or lineout penalty, where the referee’s decision will be final

For the avoidance of doubt, there is no extra challenge available after 75 minutes. Teams receive one challenge per match and will only retain it if they are successful in a previous challenge.

What cannot be challenged

- A restart in play has happened including a quick tap or quick throw in has been taken, so the team has chosen to play quickly

- Non-decisions - where a referee does not blow their whistle for a decision and play continues (unless there is foul play)

- Set-piece decisions cannot be challenged because they are technical decisions that could provide multiple outcomes based on the interpretations of players and referees

Goalline drop-out

For held-up over the line, knock-ons that occur in goal or when the ball is grounded by a defending player in the in-goal area after a kick through, the defending team will take a drop-out from anywhere on the goal line.

The drop-out must be taken on or behind the defending team’s goal line and it must occur without delay. The ball must cut across the goal line and travel 5 metres. If this does not occur a sanction will apply and the non-kicking team may request the kick to be retaken or receive a 5m scrum in line with where the kick was taken.

For the avoidance of doubt, a missed penalty kick at goal or a missed drop-goal attempt will still result in a 22m drop-out for the defending team.

Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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