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New to Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021

The goal-line drop-out and captain’s referral – will be introduced for Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021.

A goal line drop-out will occur when an attacking player carrying the ball is held up in the in-goal or knocks the ball on in the in-goal area, or when an attacking kick, other than a penalty or drop goal attempt, is grounded by the defending team in their in-goal area. 

A captain’s referral will see each captain given one opportunity per match to ask the referee to have the Television Match Official (TMO) check for an infringement in the lead up to a try, or to review foul play.

  • Captains will have 10 seconds to make their referral after a try has been awarded.
  • The TMO will be able to go back to the last stoppage in play, regardless of how many phases have been played.
  • Foul play referrals can be made after any stoppage in play if the captain believes foul play has been missed by the match officials.
  • Captain’s must reference ‘specific’ incidents or infringements.
  • Footage must be ‘clear and obvious’ for a referral to be upheld.
  • The scrum and lineout are not included in the referral process.

If the referring captain is correct, they will retain their referral, but if the referee’s original decision stands, or the TMO footage is not ‘clear and obvious’, the captain loses their referral.

The captain’s referral will be applied more broadly from the 75-minute mark in any match at which point the captain, provided they have not already lost their referral, can use it to check any referee’s decision, regardless of whether a try has been scored.

A full breakdown of the goal line drop-out and captain’s referral is below.

Goal line drop-out


1. When an attacking player carrying the ball is held up in the in-goal or knocks the ball on in the in-goal, play restarts with a goal line drop-out.

2. When a kick (excluding a penalty kick, drop kick attempt, kick-off or play restart kick) goes into the in-goal area and is grounded, or otherwise made dead by the defending team, play restarts with a goal line drop-out.


  • The drop-out is taken on or behind the defending team’s goal line.
  • The drop-out must be taken without delay. The ball must cross the 5m line.
  • If the drop-out is not executed correctly the receiving team has the option of asking for the kick to be retaken or being awarded a 5m scrum.
  • If the kick is taken on the full by a defender in their in-goal area, the defender may claim a mark and play restarts with a free kick on the 5m line in line with the place of the mark.
  • If a player from the attacking team causes the ball to go into touch-in-goal or over the dead-ball line, then the defending team will have the option of taking a 22m drop out or a scrum at the place that the ball was kicked.
  • If the ball crosses the 5m line but then bounces, is blown back by the wind or deflected back, play continues.
  • If a goal line drop-out goes out on the full, the receiving team has the option of either: asking for a re-kick, a scrum feed on the 5m line in line with where the kick was taken, or throwing to a lineout on the 5m line. 
  • The receiving team must be back at least 5m and cannot charge the kick. The sanction for charging the kick is a free kick 10m up field.
  • The team receiving the ball from a goal line drop-out, can not score a dropped goal until the ball has gone through one phase of play.
  • If the ball hits the kicking team’s posts during a goal line drop-out and the ball goes dead, then the receiving team has the option of a 5m attacking scrum in line with where the kick was taken or can ask for a re-kick.

Captain’s referral

There are three scenarios under which a captain’s referral can be made:

1. For an infringement before a try is scored, at any time from the last restart in play. (Previously, the TMO could only go back two phases).

2. Foul Play: A captain can refer a referee to an act of foul play he thinks has been missed by the match officials.

3. After the 75-minute mark, including any period of extra time, the captain can use his referral to challenge any referee’s decision, not just those leading to a try.

How it will work

  • Captains get one referral per match.
  • When he wants to use his referral, the captain will tell the referee what they want to be checked and confirm they are using their captain’s referral. For example: “Ref, we think there was a knock on at the last ruck before this try. Can you check please?”
  • The referee will ask the TMO to look at the footage and advise whether the referral was correct, or not.
  • Once a ruling has been made on the referral, play will resume.
  • If the captain’s referral is correct, then they get to keep that referral to use again.
  • If they are incorrect and their referral is over-ruled, they lose it.
  • The captain must make a referral within 10 seconds of a try being scored, a referee’s decision, or a stoppage in play.
  • The captain must be specific about what they are referring.
  • Anything referred must be ‘clear and obvious’ in the TMO’s review.
  • The captain cannot use his referral to stop play following a quick tap penalty or quick throw-in. 
  • Scrum and lineout are not part of the referral process.