World Rugby will be adopting a Super Rugby position for the Autumn internationals when it comes to the TMO protocol.
A closed trial will see a revision of the scope of the Television Match Official (TMO) only in the November tests hosted by Tier one unions. This follows a full review of the current global trial and the variant used in Super Rugby. The review was conducted by a working group of match officials, coaches, players and administrators (full list below). The trial, reflects the sport’s commitment to ensuring best-possible match officiating practice.
The key objective of the review was to look at current practice with a view to reduce the perceived reliance on the TMO and time impact, while ensuring clear, consistent and accurate on-field decision-making.
The following principles were agreed following detailed consideration:
- Try scoring should be an on-field decision with the referee being responsible, but the team of four can all contribute.
- The current list of potential infringements for which a TMO can be referred will be retained, but any referral needs to be prompt, clear and consistent.
- The ‘on the run’ chat – also known as ‘informal reviews’ – between the match officials and TMO for foul play will be removed with the onus on the referee, who should only refer to the TMO issues that are clear and obvious serious acts of foul play, including penalty kick, yellow card or red card as a potential sanction in order to protect player welfare.
- As per existing protocol, the TMO – as well as referee and assistant referees – can continue to instigate a formal review for actions of foul play missed by the on-field officials
- Match officials can review foul play up to when the game restarts, when a penalty is kicked to touch and when foul play footage becomes available.
- Proposal to include live broadcast of the TMO in action.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said, “World Rugby is committed to regularly reviewing our match officiating protocols to ensure that they are in the best-possible shape to support accurate and consistent match official decision-making and uphold our player welfare focus without adversely impacting on the match.
“This Television Match Official review reflects that commitment and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the process and look forward to seeing the trial in practice this November.”
World Rugby Council Member and Rugby Committee Chairman John Jeffrey added, “In reviewing the current global protocol alongside the Super Rugby protocol, the group agreed that for this trial we should place greater emphasis on on-field decision-making, with the TMO role limited to try-scoring and serious foul play, while also removing the ‘on-the-run’ conversations between the TMO and team of three match officials.
“While we hope that the revised protocol will have a positive impact in terms of time impact on the game and accuracy, as with any trial, we will undertake a full review after the November window before determining whether to proceed.”
RugbyReferee.net comment: It’s admirable for World Rugby and the game to keep considering how the officiating needs to keep improving. But we have some doubts over whether these changes will bring about the intended outcomes. Think back to the major incidents over the summer international window. Would this protocol have changed the outcome or process used in any of the major incidents or discussion points? We’re not so sure. The shoulder/head contacts in New Zealand v France, Luke Pearce’s debatable yellow card in the same game, the Folau v O’Mahony contact in the air incident in Australia v Ireland. None of those would have been different had those games been played under this protocol. We do see the adoption of the ‘on-field decision’ position taken by SANZAR leading to a slight speed up in-goal/try decisions.
The informal/’on-the-run’ conversations is one area that, in domestic leagues, brings praise to the officials – meaning the referee can quickly check with a TMO on lower level acts of foul play, without stopping the game, but this seems to being removed from the internationals. It will be interesting to see how the top tier English, Welsh, Australian referees – who seem to use this to positive effect – find this if/when they pick up Autumn international matches. One to keep an eye on, that’s for sure.
TMO Working group members:
- John Jeffrey (Chair),
- Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO),
- Brett Robinson (Rugby Australia/World Rugby Rugby Committee Member),
- Alain Rolland (World Rugby High Performance 15s Match Officials Manager)
- Ben Skeen (TMO, NZR),
- Lyndon Bray (SANZAAR Match Officials Manager),
- Nigel Owens (Referee, WRU),
- Joe Schmidt (Coach, IRFU),
- Jamie Heaslip (International Rugby Players),
- Steve Jamieson (World Rugby TV Producer/Broadcast),
- Rowan Kitt (TMO, RFU),
- Angus Gardiner (Referee, NZR),
- Ian Foster (Coach NZR),
- Mark Egan (World Rugby Head of Competitions and Performance) and
- Mark Harrington (World Rugby Head of Technical Services).
Adopted from: Rugbyreferee.net