It's time... to put the TMO back where he belongs - Green and Gold Rugby

It’s time… to put the TMO back where he belongs

It’s time… to put the TMO back where he belongs

The last few weeks have seen a dramatic increase in eyeballs on our game, with three blockbuster series played in the Southern Hemisphere.

We’ve been able to draw a number of conclusions from those matches: the Wallabies have improved, England have declined, South Africa look reinvigorated and Ireland will be a real contender at the World Cup.

There is one more I’d like to throw in while we’re at it: the game has become ponderously slow.

I’m not talking about the rugby itself, which has been of a very high quality – skilful and fast with a great mix of attack and defence. I’m talking about the times when the ball isn’t in play, where I think the amount and nature of stoppages are seriously impacting the viewing experience.

I went to Brisbane for the first game against Ireland, and the thing that struck me was the amount of dead time during the match. A period of scintillating rugby would get the crowd on their feet, but then the play would stop and three minutes would pass – a substitution would be made, an injury stoppage would take place, or a pointless TMO intervention.

Not so fast Izzy - there was foul play 8 minutes ago

Not so fast Izzy – there was foul play 8 minutes ago

This sucked the energy from the stadium time after time. People sat back down. Conversation would strike up. Focus drifted. I had a similar experience last Saturday at a friend’s house, where we had two televisions side-by-side – one tuned to the rugby and the other to the soccer. The differences were stark.

The main culprit is the increased use of the TMO. First introduced as a way of checking on contentious try decisions, it’s now permeated almost every part of the game. On Saturday we saw Ben Skeen inject himself to comment on high tackles, lifting tackles and playing the ball on the ground, as well as a contentious try decision.

Each of these involvements takes at least five minutes. Fans at the ground have no idea what’s going on – the referee just wanders into open field, his hand on his ear, and we are all left wondering what the hell has happened. It’s cleared up minutes later when, after extensive discussion, we have a decision.

I hate it. It hasn’t helped the game at all. While we may be picking up the occasional off-the-ball incident we would have missed in the past, we’re now adding 15 minutes onto the run time of the game. We’re trying to obtain a perfection in officiating that is impossible to achieve, and killing the game in the process.

I don't blame you, Johnny.

I don’t blame you, Johnny.

I’m starting a campaign to end TMO involvements away from try-scoring actions. It’s called ‘GET BACK IN YOUR BOX’ and it’s going to sweep the nation.

I don’t care if Jack McGrath knocked the ball out of Nick Phipps’ hands. The ref missed it, and that’s rugby. Get back in your box.

I don’t care if Kurtley Beale’s tackle slipped up around the shoulders of Garry Ringrose. The ref saw it, the touchie saw it, and we played on. Get back in your box.

I don’t care if Adam Coleman took a player out off the ball five minutes before an Israel Folau try. It didn’t impact the ensuing play, or warrant a card. Get back in your box.

We need to be comfortable with the ref missing the occasional incident at the base of the ruck, or behind the play. They can be dealt with by the judiciary, as they have been in the past.

I encourage you to stand with me and tolerate the occasional refereeing error, and eliminate the creep in the responsibilities of the TMO. Because before long we’ll be stopping play to look at every ruck, where a player tripped off his feet or came in marginally from the side.

Embrace the imperfections of our game – by trying to eliminate them we’re only making it worse.

I want a game that ebbs and flows, where momentum shifts and teams can trade haymakers without breaking for five minutes every time a tackle slips above the waist.

I want eyeballs to be stuck like glue to TV screens, not given an opportunity to flick over to the League/AFL/Soccer/Midsummer Murders because it looked like the knock-on at the ruck might have been caused by a defender’s boot.

I want crowds to get on their feet, and stay there.

I want the TMO to get back in his box. And I hope you do too.

  • Jason

    Yeah, I think rugby has a few things that it needs to adjust it’s approach with, foul play should really be dealt with via a post game suspension; this shift in approach would allow World Rugby to also reduce the almost insurmountable penalty that is a Red Card; a Red Card should result in the offending player not being allowed to return to the game, 10 (or 20) min a player down for the offending team, but after that period they should be allowed to bring on a replacement (let’s not forget the offending team has 10 min being a man down, plus is forced to make substitutions they likely wouldn’t normally make); in addition to this any Red Card is followed by an automatic (unless rescinded) one game suspension to punish both the offending team and the offending player. This change in approach would allow the TMO to do the job the TMO should do and that’s cite things for a post match review panel to examine.

    But what no one is considering is why we have so much reliance on the TMO at the moment; let’s consider AFL for a second – in AFL they have 10 officials ranging from goal umpires to linesman to general umpires/referees (and one to manage the interchange). Rugby has 2 – one in the middle, and two half referees on the touch lines, obviously one referee can’t see every knock-on, forward pass or instance of off ball foul play, let alone officiate the ruck and post ruck situation probably one of the most complex and hard to officiate situations in any sports. We need a second on field referee, this would mean one referee would be primarily responsible for the offside line (something that’s seldom monitored) and the defensive aspects of the ruck and the other to follow the attacking team, watching for any knock-ons, forward passes, and interference in the ruck and being primarily responsible for the upcoming tackle situation. This would also help significantly at scrum time and also with mauls as having referees cover about half of these each is going to lead to a lot more correct decisions being made.
    In an age where Basketball are taking about bring in a 4th referee (the NBA, but they won’t) is it really fair that we expect one on field referee to be able to officiate what is likely one of the most technically sophisticated sports on the planet.

    • Hugh Cavill

      The NRL introduced the second ref, and they are now whingeing more than ever. One ref is clean and consistent, even with a few errors thrown in.

      Ultimately, as long as a human being is operating the whistle you are going to have mistakes. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or fifteen.

      • Jason

        Yeah, I’d look to the experiences in Basketball and AFL where they have clear consistent guidelines about who has what responsibility. I think it’s pretty plan to see that there is too much going on for one on field referee to keep up with, even at scrum and line-out time it’s obvious only the rules the referee is focused on are enforced, offside is another one that is obviously let go because they don’t have enough eyes on the play. I think the NRL experience isn’t what we would get because in the NRL the issues aren’t around there being too many things to manage simultaneously, their issues are around the quality of the calls, because by it’s nature is a less complex game.

        • Brendan Hume

          controlling offside is supposed to be on of the jobs of the Assistant Referee. Similarly off the ball incidents. The ref should manage on the ball and offsides that they can see.

        • Jason

          You say that like they at last pretend to do that, I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a Kiwi team kept onside for most of a match.

        • Greg

          it had to come….

          what about Richie?


    • Andrew Baker

      In a super or above rugby game there are many refs already involved. I Ref, 2 AR, #4, #5 fire sideline TMO, then the ones that don’t make realtor decisions like the referee coach and the young ref that runs water for the ref to get experience
      I agreeagree have moving the play along and suggest clear rules limiting involvement are the way forward but I would also like to see an extra ref, a fatty eating a pie in the TMO box who knows wtf happens in a scrum and can

  • Happyman

    Testify Brother

    I go to Premier Grade games now and it is just enjoyable to watch the game with no interruptions. Ref makes a call and we move on. you are upset for about ten seconds. Without wanting to sound like to much of a tree hugger the experience is more organic.

  • Braveheart81

    The NRL has really improved their review system this year in relation to tries. They follow a really clear process where the referee has made a decision and then the bunker reviews as few replays as possible to back up or overturn the decision. Too often the TMO ends up showing the same replay multiple times even though it is clear what the result was.

    Outside of scoring situations I think limiting the TMO to instances of serious foul play would be best. Marginal high tackles don’t need to be looked at.

    • Twoilms

      I’d go further and say that they should not be involved, even in instances of serious foul play. They should just jack up the punishments received if the judiciary finds you guilty post match.

      Fines and loner suspensions.

      • Bakkies

        ‘Fines and loner suspensions’

        Which is not occurring in the NRL hence the call for more send offs in the sport. Dylan Napa broke a Broncos’ player’s jaw with a clear shoulder charge to the head with no intent to wrap his arms. Bloke wasn’t even cited, the CEO then comes out and says he should of been. Rugby judiciaries are already a farce we don’t need to make it more of one.

  • Brendan Hume

    Amen… I’d also like to see a single replay in real time and a decision made from that – the game is played and refereed in real time – it should be enough that real time is used to adjudicate where something isn’t seen at first glance by the referee.

    Then if we speed up the scrum and line out and we’ll have a much better game.Can’t set a scrum? Short arm, play on. Need a conference to make a line out decision? Too bad, short arm, play on.

    I think the same should be true of stoppages for many injuries unless foul play is involved or the injury is of a serious nature – get up, or get off. Genia was a great example of this.

    • Brendan Hume

      And can I also ask that our referees actually understand the law – there’s no such thing as double movement in rugby. Can’t remember if this was in the Wallabies or AB’s test. The commentators are just as bad. Controlling the ball? Downward pressure? No such thing – the ball simply needs to be touched on the ground over the try line. Control (as long as the ball is not separated from the players hand) or downward pressure aren’t supposed to be considerations.

      • Braveheart81

        There is no double movement but it explains whether the law was broken. The law is clearly that a player has an opportunity to place the ball once they have been tackled. Was there a double movement explains whether they did place the ball immediately or did they make a second movement and then place it thereby breaking the law.

        The other question is whether there was a knock on. All the things like control and downward pressure help explain whether there was a knock on. There is no detail in the laws of what technically constitutes a knock on and there is no detail in the laws for scoring a try beyond being the first player to ground the ball in the opponent’s in goal or against the goal post.

        I think all those things are just part of the decision making process to determine whether the simple law such as a tackled player placing the ball or a player knocking the ball on or grounding it for a try were done correctly.

        • Jerry

          I’ve noticed the anti double movement er….movement seems a lot more vocal in Australia than in other places. I know it’s a term in the League law book and wonder if that’s why more Aussie union fans don’t like the term.

        • Bakkies

          I don’t think it is even in the League rule book and that often changes during the season or the NRL brings out a new directive mid week.

      • Jerry

        There’s no such thing as truck and trailer. There’s no such thing as lazy running. There’s no such thing as swimming round a maul. But for some reason, it’s the ‘double movement’ bogey man that people pick up? Here’s another phrase that’s not in the lawbook – knock on. Why does no one bring that one up.

        Double movement is a perfectly acceptable use of jargon to describe the action committed. Saying ‘he failed to play the ball immediately’ would be confusing for many as the issue with the illegal action isn’t related to time, it’s related to the fact that the player was adjudged to be tackled. What he did wrong was to get up instead of playing the ball, so ‘double movement’ tells the player (and the casual fan) what he did wrong.

        And if a ball is loose in the in-goal, you can score a try by pressing down on it. So in some cases it’s perfectly acceptable in many cases to talk about downward pressure. And holding the ball implies some level of control, so I don’t necessarily have a problem with using that term in some cases – eg, if a player has lost control of the ball on the way down, are they still holding it?

        • Bobas

          knock on isn’t in the law book…? Its Law 11!

        • Jerry

          Oops, meant ‘forward pass’ (palm meet face for me). But people don’t get up in arms and say it should be ‘throw forward’.

      • Greg

        “Downward pressure” it used be in the law book…. but indeed is not there now! Instead the term is “grounded” which is not defined.

        I love rugby laws :-)

  • swingpass

    i absolutely agree. have said so on a number of the fora threads. let the Ref make an error, they are allowed too, players do, coaches do, spectators do. if we want perfect then lets have two teams of robots battle out nil-nil draws.

    • Pedro

      It’s an interesting concept, I still think there’s a place for reds where something is deliberately malicious. Like a clear punch or rucking etc.

  • Monk EyBoy

    1 man in the middle with the 2 ARs on the sideline should get the majority of stuff right. Professional Rugby has meant that players and coaches living is dependant on wins and losses, instead of excepting the ebbs and flows of a game from a refereeing perspective they now demand perfection. The results are:
    1. TMO interactions increasing,
    2. Lifting Tackle law my view of intent is different to yours so there are inconsistencies WR answer if A happens then do B
    3. Jumping players my view of intent is different to yours so there are inconsistencies WR answer if C happens then do D
    4. High Tackles my view of intent is different to yours so there are inconsistencies WR answer if E happens then do F
    The list will keep on growing.
    In my opinion the two best referees in the world at the moment are Glen Jackson and ‘Gus Gardener, both very different referees
    Gus is accurate, he gets stuff right most of the time and is always consistent,
    Glen is an ex player, he isn’t as accurate, but ignores the “grey” errors is always consistent … he also seems to get a better flowing game.
    The more WE demand perfection in all things the more stilted the game will become

  • Jerry

    He doesn’t want to get back in his box cause Nathan Grey is in there.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Go you Hugh. With you on this 100% that wanker Skeen is just diabolical. Seems to want to make up for not being good enough to get on the paddock by being a prick of it.
    If its not foul play then piss off unless asked

    • Hugh Cavill

      It’s not his fault, he’s just following protocol. The problem is with World Rugby and their obsession with perfection.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        I think he comes in too many times when neither the referee, the AR’s or the crowd want him to. I also hate the way he speaks it’s like he’s talking to a little school kid.

        • Bobas

          “Little boy, come to my van and i’ll show you camera number 7, my technology”

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha yeah

        • Greg

          That’s not a great comment.

        • Bobas

          Your inference probably isn’t great either

      • SuckerForRed

        Some TMO’s are definitely worse than others though……. at both ends of the spectrum.

    • Parker

      Too right, mate!

    • Bakkies

      Skeen is not as bad as Ayoub. Ayoub trying to talk Garces out of awarding a clear cut red card to SBW last year took the biscuit. Not his role to talk the onfield referee out of making a decision.

  • Dave P

    get rid of the tmo entirely. don’t even let them decide on tries.

  • Knapsta

    The time wasting conferences every lineout gets me the most. This area has become disgraceful. If the refs were to blow a short arm for time wasting, the practice would cease very quickly. Surely a 30 second clock for lineouts and scrums or something like would work quite well. Gotta speed things up as the article suggests. All these matters combined are ruining the game as a spectacle. Don’t even get me started on the TMO reviewing the same shot 3-4-10 times when once was more than adequate to make a quick decision. No, we need to check all the angles, full speed and freeze frame, rock and roll, just to be certain, oh, sorry go back to the first angle and repeat…

    • Bakkies

      Twiggy is trialling faster lineouts and scrums.

  • Adam Gulson

    Remember the success of the 91 RWC? Back to basics. No more replays at the venue. No more TMO. Let the game flow. All the referrals etc do nothing except stop the game and it’s dying. Technology is killing rugby.

    • 22DropOut

      Rugby is a different sport to what it was in 1991.

  • OnTheBurst

    Well played Hugh!!!!

    • Hugh Cavill

      Thanks mate

  • Frank S Howard

    Totally agree and while we are at it let’s do away with red cards leaving teams with 14 surely a reserve could come on after 10 minutes. Leave the judiciary to sort out the appropriate penalty.

  • paul

    Yep, agree totally. And away with red cards, use a citing process like the AFL.

    • Bakkies

      Bad idea it will take Rugby back to the dark days of the 80s and 90s where an elbow drop on a prone player won’t get you sent and/or banned.

  • A Dingo Stole My Rugby

    At the risk of being howled down, I’m going to respectfully disagree, Hugh – in part.

    To begin, I agree with you on the principle of reduced TMO interventions. But not going as far as making it for tries only. And I agree there should be no going back multiple phases to check whether so-and-so might have got half a fingernail to a ball or someone else was half a pube’s width offside four rucks ago.

    But I want the TMO to intervene for suspected foul play – every time the on-field people miss it. I want him on that wall, I need him on that wall.

    Why? Because I want my kids and everyone else’s kids, and our wives etc to want our kids to play rugby, knowing that at its elite level, player welfare is paramount, should they aspire to those heights. Or even if they don’t.

    What I don’t want is incompetent TMO foul play interventions, where after viewing replays, the TMO still misses important elements. Like George Ayoub last Saturday in Wellington.

    • Hugh Cavill

      That’s a fair point Dingo.

      I’d be OK with TMO interventions for foul play as long as it met a red card threshold. So if someone is king-hit behind the ball, then fair enough.

      But that said, I think that behaviour can be dealt with by the judiciary after the match and a strong signal can still be sent to mums, kids etc.

      • Bakkies

        ‘But that said, I think that behaviour can be dealt with by the judiciary ‘

        Hugh it isn’t though. Sam Cane can’t even get suspended after knocking out a bloke with a shoulder charge to the head.

        Leaving disciplinary decisions up to lawyers and committee men will make it is as farcical as the NRL and AFL where players are taking fines when they should be hit with a ban.

    • Greg


      Don’t forget that the man on the wall saw Coleman tackle a player without the ball. That is foul play as well.

    • Bakkies

      ‘And I agree there should be no going back multiple phases’

      Pretty sure you are only allowed to go back three phases. Should be restricted to two. I have seen referees take play back to halfway, they know there is an infringement yet allow the clock to continue than refer it upstairs. To me that is completely unfair on the defensive team particularly in the case of being behind on the scoreboard and an avoidance of responsibility as the main referee.

      I would also like to see no TMO referrals after a try is awarded. If you aren’t sure there is a try just don’t award it, send it upstairs.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        There’s no limit to how far they can go back for foul play.

        The definition of foul play is also very broad. Covering anything from accidental tackles off the ball to things like Moriarty against Argentina.

  • Bobas

    While we’re at it can we go for intercepts again?
    No one has ever been called for a penalty for a deliberate forward pass. Even that one Matt Toomua deliberately threw 20m forward because he thought the ball was not in play.
    Why is every unsuccessful intercept a deliberate knock down and then a penalty or worse a yellow if they had numbers? Surely lets just make them scrums like a forward pass unless you are diving over a ruck or threw the line to slap it down.

    • Bakkies

      ‘Why is every unsuccessful intercept a deliberate knock down ‘

      It is pretty obvious to everyone except Australian players and supporters. Slapping passes with outstretched one arm and no realistic chance of catching it is not an intercept attempt. It is a cynical play to stop a potential scoring or attacking opportunity.

      If I wanted to watch people do that than AFL and Basketball is a go.

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        No, Bakkies, I think that’s ridiculous. First, because it’s often not clear if a knock down – often it looks like the player is indeed going for an intercept (JDV argued with the referee once).

        Further, I don’t think it’s cynical, it just punishes teams for attacking poorly. The deliberate knock down rule protects poor attacks. If the defending team is in a position to disrupt an attack/overlap/whatever by knocking the ball on intentionally then why shouldn’t they? The attacking team should pass before the defensive line, pass over the defender, etc.

        As far as I’m aware it’s a relatively new rule anyway?

        I think it’s a stupid rule. If a ball is knocked on on purpose just play the scrum like with every other knock on.

        • Bakkies

          It is an old law Campo got penalised for it in the ’91 RWC Final it was more clear and obvious than Beale’s at the same venue last year. The English argued for a pen try as Campo had no intention of making an attempt to catch the ball and was the last defender.

          It is not even a good defensive play and a spoiling tactic that belongs in Basketball and AFL. You don’t want to see players slapping forward passes as a tactic.

          Once again it is Australia’s inability to understand and comprehend the law is why they are one of the most penalised teams and you only have to look at the coach and captain’s inability to compliment the laws.

          Funny that the only crowd that complains about this law is from Australia.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          ‘It is not even a good defensive play’

          Substantiate this claim. Why isn’t it good? By definition it is an effective defensive play if it stops an attack and doesn’t result in a penalty try. Is it cynical under the current rules? Yes, but I think the rules should be changed.

          Looking on Twitter there are plenty of fans from all around the world, including Ireland, who are opposed to the rule – it is definitely wrong to assume it is an Australian thing.

        • Bakkies

          Substantiate this claim? Are you for real? If you want to argue like TWAS aka Cameron it is pretty clear why it isn’t a good play. You are giving the ball back to the opposition one way or another.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          ‘it is pretty clear why it isn’t a good play’

          Okay, you should find it easy to explain why.

          Under the current laws if you manage to stop a line break and what would lead to a potential try and avoid a yellow card that seems like a positive outcome to me if you’re far enough away from your try line that it won’t lead to an attacking line out.

          If the laws were changed and it was simply a scrum then it would obviously be better than allowing a line break and a potential try – especially if your scrum was near parity or dominant.

          You’re acting like this is a black and white issue, but it isn’t. There are situations where an intentional knock down is a bad defensive play, but situations where it is a good one. Just ask Beauden Barrett who stopped a couple of likely tries last year with intentional knock downs and got yellow carded accordingly (but I don’t think the opposition scored despite).

          Was it cynical under the current laws? Absolutely.

          Was it effective for Barrett and his team? Yes.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          For what it’s worth, Bakkies, after reading the arguments on the other site I’ve been convinced of the need for the current laws, cheers.

      • Bobas


    • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

      Totally agree Bobas. The deliberate knock down law is the stupidest, most frustrating law of them all. How many of them were really attempted intercepts? We will never know, we can’t ever know, as the ref can’t see inside the player’s brain, but I’d guess most of them. Should be a scrum for a knock on, end of story.

      • Bobas

        I agree, shouldn’t be able to rule on ‘intent’

  • Johnno

    TMO is here to stay for stuff other than foul play and tries and it’s the right move.. Think the craig joubert storm at the 2015 world cup and that storm it created, is exactly why TMO has been expanded and rightly so or the lions series last year…

  • BigNickHartman

    Totally agree – hopefully if they go back to the old style (ref is a human who makes mistakes), when fans whinge World Rugby can threaten them with TMO stick.

    Although I still think stuff like the deliberate knock on in the ruck should still be TMO, because in this instance Nick Phipps disputed it. Bit off topic, but this is where the NFL flag system should come into play

  • Muzz

    Yep the time wasting is a killer and something has to be done to fix it. They also need to try to reign in the other time wasting that goes on. I’d note that much of this is not a problem in local club rugby.

  • Who?

    Hugh, you know, I reckon it’s not horrible to have the replay, but it should be the bloke on the field. When you see him being overruled, it’s ordinary. If he decides he wants to check a grounding, that’s fine. But he should watch the big screen, and we (at the ground) can all go through it together.
    That also applies to foul play. The ref can note it, the TMO can note it, I don’t care who it is. As long as the ref is the one making the call on the field.
    That said, perhaps a time limit might be good… As in, you get no more than three replays per camera, one slow two in real time. And 45 seconds max.
    And MANDATE neutral TV Directors, with no replays of controversial/incorrect decisions permitted to be shown at the ground!!! Because I’m sick of seeing local directors showing stuff on the big screen that is missed but can swing a match. THAT is the biggest issue…

    • disqus_NMXfOrw5ot

      That makes really good sense Who. Only thing I’d disagree with is the hard time limit, as I can imagine situations where more time could be imperative, so putting a hard limit would lead to trouble. But you could put a guidance directive for the refs to hurry it up as much as possible.

  • Patrick

    Amen.There should arguably be greater video review post-match, and stiffer penalties for apparently deliberate fouls

  • 22DropOut

    I disagree. You may say that the game is “ponderously slow” as a result but the game has never been so fast and the referee can’t keep up with all that happens let alone closely monitor more of the dark arts.

    If the game was slow as pre-2000s then it would be fine without TMOs. In the age of professionalism it is essential.

    When it is not used as a crutch by referees it often adds to the excitement too I find.

  • Macca44

    Much in all as it pains me to say it, the NRL have it all over rugby when it comes to the TMO and officiating in general

    – their accountabilities are clear and their decision reflect it – in the NRL the ref does everything up to the point of referral then the TMO decides. Rugby on the other hand have a TMO whose role appears mainly to be the interface to the director and then becomes a committee member as we hold a live discussion about the rule book. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard the ref say something along the lines of “so what exactly are you recommending?” Or the ref gets the shits and says what he saw and asks the TMO what he thinks, to which he almost always says he agrees. Where is the value add
    – the other challenge/two edge sword that rugby have is that we have three fully fledged referees on the field, the existence of which blurs the accountabilities of the whistle holder. I don’t think that the ref knows what to do if he disagrees with an observation from the assistant – as he essentially views them as equals. Instead of having specific accountabilities like forward passes, offside, collapsed scrums, straight line out throws, etc, the ARS are basically trying to referee the game without a whistle. The NRL on the other hand have a pocket ref who has clear subordinate accountabilities to the main ref and the linespeople run the line and that’s about it….

    Just a few thoughts to add into the mix

  • Richard Patterson

    I think what this article further highlights is the linkage to the central theme that rugby would be better off without New Zealand. No New Zealand players, teams, referees, TMOs, administrators, supporters. The quality of the rugby would be better. The quality of the refereeing would be better. The quality of TMO involvement would be better. The quality of everything and everyone would be better.

  • Reinforce

    Did anyone have a chuckle at the whites of the big props eyes when he saw he could have a little tap at Nic Phipps as the ball came out. Love props. He would have talked about that for years if he had got away with it.

    • juswal

      Great bit of camera work to catch his eyes popping.

  • Reinforce

    I do agree on the blight on the game part but the consequences of Jack White’s success would have been a no-try to the Wallabies. Its a sliding doors game. Blocking, off the ball incidents, knock-ons. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. When an incident is missed we would cry foul……….and maybe that is the theatre of the game but I don’t think there is a generation of English that have ever got over the “Hand of God”. Its complicated cause there is no easy answer. I’d be p*ssed if we lost a Bledisloe because of some incident that refs missed cause it is so damn hard to win. Same for a WC. I think I prefer it “right” rather than “missed”.

  • I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick with your call.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the drive to increase accuracy from WR and with the TMO in principle.

    What is wrong is the implementation. There are two problems with it:

    1) It often takes too long.
    2) It is nearly always obscure for the fans. The TMO pontificates, possibly consults with the on-field ref, then there’s a decision.

    Number 1 can be dealt with in a number of ways. First, we should swap the priority of the questions to the TMO about tries. Currently the default question is “Try, yes or no?” and it should become “Is there any reason not to award the try?” The TMO then has a time limit of 30 seconds to look and if there’s not a clear reason, award the try. Scores will go up, but teams will probably try and attack the line more often because they’re more likely to get a try awarded if it’s not clear. If there’s a good reason to go for the other question – the AR is pretty sure there’s a foot in touch, the referee is pretty sure the ball was held up etc. – then they can ask the other question, say what the reason is, and the TMO looks for that. We give them a minute and if after that it’s not clear, we still award the try.

    Number 2, although I’m not a cricket fan, I think we should take a leaf from cricket. Everyone looks at the big screen during TV umpire decisions. The steps in the process are clearly spelt out and the fans are engaged. Referees have microphones these days. The TMO is surrounded by electronics. We all know stadia have PAs. Most stadia for top-flight games have a big screen too. So:

    a) Announce what is going on.
    b) Play back what the TMO is looking at, and have the TMO and the referee’s discussion played live.
    c) Require the TMO, or a second “TMO commentator” who is a referee who is not actually making the decision but is a qualified referee, explain what is going on to the crowd.

    Instant engagement. One-eyed dyed in the wool fans won’t be happy of course. WR might still do stupid things like look reduce the Fall red card to a “no sending off” and undermine the referee’s decision, however much their statement tried not to do that. There will still be mistakes and controversy – the two high hits on Grosso spring very quickly to mind. You, Hugh, might still be bored and stop and chat to your friends rather than watching what’s going on. But I rather suspect that the vast majority of the fans will be engaged, will watch and listen. Who knows, they might even learn something about the laws of the game – judging by the commentary we hear week and week out, there’s a desperate need for that in both the commentators and the audience after all. And educated fans are more likely to tune in, or turn up, and watch the sport don’t you think?

  • edward g murrow

    well this was prescient.

  • Ramon Miller

    I agree. Ben Skeen has become the Kiwi set on scuttling the Wallabies from the TMO box. Except for questions regarding tries, I agree with you. TMO GET BACK IN YOUR BOX!


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