The effect of Experimental Law Variations on the Super 14 Rugby Union Tournaments

  • P van den Berg
  • DDJ Malan
Keywords: Rugby union, game analysis, rule changes, performance indicators


The aim of this study was to determine whether experimental law variations (ELV) was effective in making rugby union matches more appealing to spectators by improving continuity. All the teams of the 2006 and 2008 Super 14 rugby tournament were used in this study. Three hundred and seventy games were recorded on video and analysed by means of the Opta Sports Data software package (Opta Sportsdata Limited, Harrogate, United Kingdom, 2005). The frequency of the following performance indicators (PI) were used to address the aim of this study: Scrums, tackles, line-outs, meters gained, passes made, penalties conceded, tries scored, rucks formed and defence beaten. The frequency of PI from the various seasons was compared with one another. The results obtained were then used in mathematical calculations to determine practical significance by means of Cohan’s effect sizes. The number of scrums and line-outs decreased with a large practical significant value (d ≥ 0.8). In contrast to this, the number of tackles made, meters gained and penalties conceded all increased with a large practical significant value over the two seasons. A medium size value was found for frequency of rucks, defence beaten and passes made. The increase in action activities that promote continuity suggests that the IRB have succeeded in addressing their objective of increasing the appeal of the game with the introduction of the ELVs.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939