Varsity Cup tinkering continues – but at what cost?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content on 18 Nov 2011 at 10:26
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The organisers of the Varsity Cup “stable of competitions” – including the Varsity Cup, Varsity Shield and new under-20 Young Guns competition – have announced a change to the value of kicks, which will be trialled in next year’s competitions.

In the interests of promoting try-scoring, the value of penalties and drop goals will be reduced to just two points, while try conversions will count for three. In short, a converted try will now be worth eight points (up from seven), meaning that you’ll need four penalties or drop goals to make up for a single goal, as opposed to the current situation where three penalties are worth more than a goal.

The idea is to fundamentally change the mindsets of teams – and I fear that this change will accomplish just that, however, not in quite the way that the organisers intend.

Let’s face it, teams ARE keen to score tries at the moment and will always aim to do so. By reducing the value of a penalty, all that you’re doing, though, is giving the defending team licence to infringe with absolute impunity, since they know that there is hardly any meaningful consequence to conceding a penalty, even within kickable range. This is going to result in more negative play and, ironically, will probably lead to fewer tries ultimately being scored, rather than more.

If I had been looking at this, I would have reduced the value of a drop goal to two points, since those really are contrary to the spirit of try-scoring rugby, but would left the value of a penalty unchanged. Even with a three-point conversion, keeping the three-point penalty would have evened things up far more, meaning that three penalties still trump a converted try, but only by a single point. By both reducing the value of the penalty and increasing the value of the conversion, I feel that a serious over-correction has been made which is not going to have the desired effect.


  • I agree with your sentiments…it would make much more sense trying it but with the three points still for a penalty

  • Comment 1, posted at 18.11.11 10:30:12 by Argex Reply
  • Stupid thing to do…

    Rugby shouldn’t be thought of as a game where you try score tries only to win a game. That’s kiwi mentality. So what if you have a good defense and can kick penalties? It’s the ‘battle’ I enjoy, not the highlight reel where you see tries scored. If tries were what made rugby interesting, then quit playing 15-man rugby and watch sevens.

    Lowering the value of penalties will mean teams infringing even more to try stop a try from being scored. Rugby will become more of a lottery. The last thing I want to see.

    And less for a drop goal just means not making use of skills certain players have developed growing up.

    Luckily this will probably never take off.

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.11.11 10:39:41 by hendrikp Reply
  • I see your point about teams infringing but the ref has to sort that out really and i think they looked at the positives of the change in scoring system rather than what the negatives would be. Im very in favour of it and also of the return of free kicks rather than penalites for most infrigements. If we look at this year a lot of teams just tried to milk penalties when they were in the opposition half instead of trying to actually play rugby. So good on Varsity Cup.

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.11.11 10:41:14 by SheldonK Reply
  • I wish they’d rather experiment with the breakdown laws. Wouldn’t less complicated rules at the breakdown also ultimately result in more spectators? The reasoning being that you no longer have to wonder what is was that apparently only the ref saw. Eliminate that feeling of “what the hell is going on in this game?”.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.11.11 11:43:43 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 4) : I agree with you regarding the breakdown laws but i wouldnt want to experiment too much. All i would change is that the player making the tackle cannot then go for the ball. U may think thats crazy but it would allow for continuity. In the same instance a tackled player has to place the ball and cannot get up and go again.

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.11.11 11:54:07 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 5) : I can understand the reasoning behind the player making the tackle not allowed to go for the ball – it would probably simplify things greatly. Your second suggestion is already a law, isn’t it (except when the tackle is slipped)?

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.11.11 12:04:50 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 6) : Yeh my 2nd point is already a law but i just mentioned it cos thought it goes hand in hand and sometimes isnt applied. I think just that 1 change of the tackler not going for the ball wud make the biggest difference. And well also my campaign to get free kicks and not penalties at scrum time.

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.11.11 12:08:48 by SheldonK Reply

  • Cheaty Mccaw would love this amendment. It would give him even MORE carte Blanche at the breakdowns.

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.11.11 12:12:40 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @SheldonK (Comment 7) : You mentioned the free kicks in another thread too. I really like that idea!

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.11.11 12:15:01 by vanmartin Reply
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  • With a conversion being worth 3 points, I’d tell my team to pass the ball in the ingoal area if they have to. There’s no point scoring in the corner if you have anything less than a 75% goalkicker in the team. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 10, posted at 18.11.11 12:17:42 by beet Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 9) : Do u remember the Super Rugby season when they trialled free kicks instead of penalties? it was the most exciting rugby in the last 10 years! But the Northern Hemisphere was against it cos it sped the game up!

  • Comment 11, posted at 18.11.11 12:25:11 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 11) : I do and surprisingly I wasn’t much of a rugby fan back then so it must have been memorable!

  • Comment 12, posted at 18.11.11 12:42:04 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 12) : My point made i think! haha

  • Comment 13, posted at 18.11.11 12:55:36 by SheldonK Reply

  • Agree keep the penalty 3 points and make the DG 2 and conversion 3. This will make the game more running rugby and its going to be Pukke’s time to shine

  • Comment 14, posted at 18.11.11 13:41:44 by Mutley Reply
  • Really a very short sighted initiative…o my word!!!!

  • Comment 15, posted at 18.11.11 14:29:32 by BoerSeun Reply

  • It might give players carte blanche to infringe more to prevent tries, but surely the refs will be told to be stricter and warn teams sooner when it becomes habit by teams to just infringe.

    And sommer give McCaw an honourary Last-Warning just before kick off. 🙂

  • Comment 16, posted at 20.11.11 09:17:47 by JustPlainSHARK Reply

  • Are they hoping that games are like this?

  • Comment 17, posted at 21.11.11 14:30:34 by LordHope Reply

  • @LordHope (Comment 17) : wow… that simply didn’t look like NH rugby, did it? 🙂

  • Comment 18, posted at 21.11.11 14:39:21 by robdylan Reply
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