MELBOURNE - Super Rugby Pacific has become more fluid and high-scoring this season, with time spent on stoppages drastically reduced by a slew of rule changes, data from the opening four rounds showed Thursday.
More than six minutes of "dead time" has been removed from each game, with the average match duration reduced from 98 minutes to 91 minutes and 46 seconds.
Time savings have been made by taking the yellow card review process off-field, more efficient referee-player interactions and faster resumption of play following tries.
The up-tempo nature of the games has translated to higher scores, with the average points per match reaching 61 -- the highest in the 27-year history of Super Rugby.
"We are thrilled to see the data bearing out the objectives of the law variations introduced for the 2023 season," Super Rugby Pacific tournament director Matt Barlow said.
"Our goal was to create a more fluid spectacle for fans, both at the ground and for those watching on television, and a faster and more enjoyable game for players.
"We believe we have achieved that over the opening stages of the season."
The key difference has been reducing stoppage time, particularly when reviewing foul play, by taking the TMO (television match official) review process off-field, and off-screen.
Barlow said match officials had also done a good job in enforcing time limits on conversions, scrums, lineouts, rucks and restarts after tries.
"Players and coaches are telling us the reduction in stoppage time has made the game more demanding from a physical perspective," he added.
"We've seen high-scoring, fluid and entertaining matches and that's a credit to the positive mindset with which our teams want to play."