Offside rule tweak to end Super Rugby 'kick tennis'

A stoked Jock Campbell has lauded Super Rugby Pacific's overhaul of the offside rule that will discourage teams from engaging in a tedious game of "kick tennis".

Officials on Tuesday revealed a law variation that they think will close a "loophole" and encourage counterattacking rugby when the competition begins next Friday.

The tweak has been endorsed by World Rugby and could be introduced at Test level later this year.

Traditionally, defenders in front of the kicker are put onside when a kick receiver either passes the ball or runs five metres with the ball.

But Super Rugby Pacific’s innovation will throw out those two clauses.

Instead, defenders will remain offside until they have been put onside by a teammate who has come from behind the kicker, or the kicker themself.

Under the new rules, a long kick will be tougher to defend, with a fullback or winger able to glide past any would-be tacklers isolated in front of the kicker and chasers.

Super Rugby Pacific fans in Brisbane.
Super Rugby Pacific fans in Brisbane watch the Reds' recent trial against the Western Force.

Queensland Reds fullback Campbell said discouraging the tactic, employed by Super Rugby powerhouses the Crusaders and France in particular, would improve the spectacle.

"I'm stoked, I think it's great," he said after experiencing it in trial games against the Western Force and NSW Waratahs in the last fortnight. 

"When I played France (on the 2022 Spring Tour) we made a mention of it and it's tough to play against it.

"If done well it really stifles you, because they can leave a line of defenders up there knowing they're going to kick it back.

"Catching a lot of balls in the back field; it's silly having someone just waiting to tackle you once you've run five metres.

"It opens up the game. I think it was an old rule anyway. Who wants to see more kicking?"

It is the latest in a series of law tweaks in recent seasons designed to increase ball-in-play time.

"Fans have been vocal in recent times about teams exploiting a loophole that’s seen a large number of players standing still while kicks go over their heads in what some people have called 'kick tennis'," Super Rugby Pacific chairman Kevin Malloy said.

"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.

"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."

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store