In preparation for kick-off on January 31, the Super Rugby Refereeing Team has recently been in camp in Stellenbosch, where they reviewed game management protocols from the previous year and proactively assessed the requirements for the new season, given World Rugby directives and potential Law Trials.
The high-tackle warning law is the only one to be trialled in Super Rugby, with warnings issued to players for high-risk tackle techniques by a tackle-technique review officer.
There was confusion as to whether or not an automatic one-match suspension would be imposed on players, as was the case when it was trialled during the under-20 World Cup a year ago.
Preventing high unsafe tackles is a priority for World Rugby as studies have shown that many concussions come from the high tackles.
"The shadow trial will see SANZAAR looking at all tackles each round and identifying tackles in which the tackler is in an upright body position, and in the event it is deemed the tackler has shown poor technique in executing an upright tackle, a warning may be sent to the player and player's coach". "Research has shown that the majority of concussions are caused by tacklers who tackle with an upright body".
Sanzaar was focused on implementing a process which identified high-risk upright tackles. This is not created to penalise the player in any way but to hopefully shine a light on poor technique that has been shown to increase the risk of significant injury and attempt to affect behavioural change via education and identification.
"This process will not impose any sanctions on players".
The player will not be penalised in any way but, through the warning system, it is hoped to shine a light on poor technique which has been shown to increase the risk of significant injury.
Glen Jackson is retiring in March while Nick Briant has not been selected.
The experienced Jaco Peyper, along with AJ Jacobs, Rasta Rasivhenge and Marius van der Westhuizen are the four South African referees on the 12-man Vodacom Super Rugby referee panel for the 2020 season, SANZAAR confirmed on Monday.
"This year, we have reduced the referee team from 15 to 12 following intense scrutiny of performance and the objectives we want to meet, as identified by the Stellenbosch camp in South Africa recently", Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos said in a statement.
The dozen referees have recently completed an annual camp at Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa, which is created to manage protocols from the previous year and assess World Rugby directives and potential law trials.