White added to the colour scheme


WATCH for the white card during the Super 15.

Referees who suspect foul play but cannot identify a culprit or pinpoint the incident will use a white card to alert a citing commissioner to scan the footage.

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That "on report" move is one innovation being introduced when the Super 15 begins next week.

Administrators, officials, referees and coaches have also agreed to streamline the judicial process, with players cited to face charges initially offered leaner bans if they accept a guilty plea and suspension suggested by the duty judicial officer.

Players who refuse that offer or want to contest the charge will now have their cases heard electronically with their counsel, the judicial officer and the player all able to appear on a video conference hookup instead of having to appear in person.

Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters said the aim was to improve the consistency of citing and sentence. Where possible, Sanzar wanted to use one citing commissioner and one judicial officer for the entire tournament with those officials due to be announced shortly.

Referees will concentrate more this season on the breakdown where they will demand the tackler release his victim, while officials will also be focusing on the work of the assisting tackler and the body height of players from both sides arriving to contest the area.

Most referees have favoured a fair bit of "vocal coaching" as part of their game management but they insist they will reduce their level of instruction and penalise players who breach ruck rules, creep up ahead of the offside line at rucks and other blatant infringements. They also want to reduce the number of scrum resets.

Peters said television viewership across the New Zealand, Australian and South African audiences totalled 56 million last year, an advance on the 54 million who watched the series the previous year.

However Peters said that increase should have occurred as there were 31 more games in last year's Super 15.

Television viewership was up 41 per cent in Australia, stayed flat in South Africa and had slipped 5 per cent in New Zealand with Peters suggesting the earthquakes, cancelled matches and fans saving their money for the World Cup contributed to that decrease.

Local derbies seemed to attract an average of 4000 more spectators than other matches, while 2.5 million fans attended the matches which was an increase of 697,000 on the previous season.

The Reds' ascension last year showed how fans appreciated success. Two years ago their membership was 5000 while last season it soared to 26,000.

Topics:  super 15

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