Super Rugby are exploring the option of having two on-field referee’s during a game as rugby union looks at options to make the game more attractive.
In a bid to make the game more appealing for fans and broadcasters, the ARU are looking at strategies on how to improve the sport as a spectacle, with improved refereeing high on the agenda.
The move would see a similar system to that used in the NRL, where they introduced an extra referee in 2009 in a bid to make the game more free-flowing.
Speeding up rugby without affecting the fabric of the game is seen as a crucial element in the cross-code war.
The National Rugby Championship, the third-tier competition in its second year, could become the testing ground for experimental law variations and refereeing changes.
ACT Brumbies chief executive Michael Jones supported any moves to make rugby more attractive.
“I fear for the game in Australia if we don’t take action,” Jones said.
“There has been some discussion [about] two referees and how would that be divvied up. There’s certainly some merit in that.
“We need a whole-of-game approach … to make the Super Rugby teams viable we need to get our crowds back up to 20,000 because the game’s better.”
Refereeing has come under heavy criticism in Super Rugby this year. The role of the Television Match Official is also being looked at and whether it has too much influence.
Australian rugby powerbrokers will put their heads together to come up with a plan to try to stabilise the game on and off the field.
“We’ve got the most competitive audience in the world, that’s my view,” Jones said.
“We’ve got four different codes going hammer and tongs at each other in Australia and that makes everyone push the edge, but it’s different in South Africa and New Zealand.”
The NRC will begin at the end of the end of the Super Rugby season, an important platform for experimenting with law variations.
The NRC tweaked laws last year to make a penalty goal worth two points instead of three. It resulted in only seven penalty shots taken in the entire competition and an average of 9.8 tries a game.
Brumbies captain and Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore backed the brainstorming to make the game more attractive, but said officials needed to be wary of disadvantaging Australia in international rugby.
“You’ve got your head in the sand if you think there aren’t things to look at,” Moore said.
“The more people talk positively about rugby the better the game will go.
“We need to work out what people see as attractive. There’s no doubt that’s different in Australia to what it is in Europe or South Africa.
“We need to figure it out, but not compromise, our competitiveness on the world stage. It’s a fine line between promoting that ball-in-hand running game with the importance of set pieces. Australian rugby is in a unique situation in that regard.”