2023 Game Innovations

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is focused on creating a safer game that participants love to play.

Three game innovations (EDSLVs) will be trialed in the 2023 community rugby season, aimed at improving player safety and flow of the game.

These game innovations were developed by NZR through a series of successful trials in Provincial Union competitions throughout the 2022 season, following an in-depth assessment which took into consideration game footage, key metrics and participant feedback. 

2023 community rugby game innovations

Reduced tackle height to below the sternum targeting the belly area for all community rugby grades

Game innovation: The first tackler must tackle below the sternum and target the belly area. The second tackler can legally tackle below the shoulders in accordance with current rugby law.

Feedback from community grades trialling the reduced tackle height in the 2022 season found that 78% of participants believed it improved the tackler’s safety, 72% thought there were more opportunities for offloads and 73% felt it made the game faster.

Defensive halfback offside at scrum for all community rugby grades

Game innovation: The halfback of the team not in possession must remain 1 metre from the scrum and may not advance past the tunnel until the scrum has ended.

After a successful trial across non-premier senior and teenage rugby in 2022, restrictions around the defending halfback at scrums will now be extended to include all grades of community rugby, including premier senior club and First XV school rugby.

Maximum 1.5 metre scrum push for all community rugby, excluding senior premier club rugby grades

Game innovation: The maximum push of any scrum is limited to 1.5 metres, unless the scrum is within 5 metres of the goal line.

Senior club rugby grades (except for grades designated as premier) will continue trialling a maximum scrum push of 1.5 metres in 2023, with the review results indicating this innovation required more time to establish if the change had improved player safety outcomes.

Please note: Small Blacks rugby at U12 and U13s is already limited to a maximum 0.5 metre scrum push and Teenage rugby is also limited to a maximum 1.5 metre scrum push.

Visit www.rugbytoolbox.co.nz for more information about these changes