Super Rugby Aotearoa: Leading NZ referee Ben O'Keeffe endorses rule changes

An amendment to the red card rule is set to change the new-look local Super Rugby competition scheduled to kick off in New Zealand next week.

Any player who is red-carded will be able to be replaced after 20 minutes under the new rules, and the changes has been met with open arms by those with whistle in hand.

Leading NZ referee Ben O' Keefe says the criteria for a red card have changed over time. It's no longer just about punching or kicking someone, and it only makes sense that the rules and restrictions surrounding it should evolve with it.

"You could do a reasonably good tackle which you just get wrong and it could be contact that's made directly with the head," O'Keeffe tells Newshub. "Under the frameworks that we've been given, that could be a red card." 

NZ Rugby feels comfortable that 20 minutes without a player will be enough time to sway a game. 

"There was a bit of debate internally about what the right balance was what the right amount of time was and whether it was the right thing to do or not," says NZR Head of Professional Rugby Chris Lendrum.

The addition of golden point has also been added to create a more entertaining end to matches, leaving the traditional draw in the past. 

"I've reffed a few draws in my time and you're just a bit deflated," O'Keeffe says. 

"Even as the referee, everyone just walks off and you're like 'oh wow'."

They're all moves NZ Rugby hopes will make the game more exciting for all involved. 

"I think we're kidding ourselves if we don't try and move along with what the public and the spectators want."

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Super Rugby Aotearoa: Leading NZ referee Ben O'Keeffe endorses rule changes