In a high level memo obtained by OWC, senior figures within World Rugby are pushing to clarify role of TMOs after several controversial interventions in recent weeks. It is clear from the leaked memo that World Rugby is prepared to take decisive action for the good of the game and to clarify the delineation of match day officials.
Speaking on the promise of anonymity, a highly placed source has told OWC the current problems surrounding TMOs had been building for some time and that TMO’s need to get back to “core business”.
“When the idea of a TMO was floated, the reasoning behind it was to give the reserve referee something to do. I think it was Paddy O’Brien who came up with the idea of a TMO, or Tea Making Official.
“The proposal revolved around having someone on hand who could make tea for the on-field officials if they wanted one at half time. Since then it’s taken on a life of its own.”
While not able to say just who was responsible for the redefining of the Tea Making Official role, our source was able to pin-point the exact moment when the rot set in.
“It was a Six Nations match at Lansdowne Road between Ireland and Italy years ago. Romaine Poite was the Tea Making Official and he totally buggered up the half time tea orders by brewing up Rosehip instead of Orange Pekoe, he even used bags instead of leaf. It caused a fucking up-roar.
“Poor old Nig Owens, who was the referee that match, was beside himself with the confusion and the fact he didn’t get his half time cuppa. Of course he went out in the second half and had a shocker.
“It forced a rethink of the whole Tea Making Official concept.”
The resulting modifications saw the Tea Making Official being “wired for sound” so as to be able to communicate to on-field officials and make sure there was no further confusion with half-time tea orders. World Rugby also relented and allowed the Tea Making Official to extend the scope of their involvement by offering to make coffee, cold drinks and other light refreshments during half time breaks.
“It all went off the rails one Super Rugby game in Sydney. George Ayoub was the Tea Making Official this particular night when he got on the blower to Stuart Dickinson just after a try had been scored to confirm Stu’s half-time order for an ice-cream.”
OWC has obtained the audio transcript of the seemingly innocuous exchange between Ayoub and Dickinson which is now seen as the catalyst for today’s problems:
Ayoub: “Stu, mate, I’ve got your Cornetto for half-time.”
Dickinson: “Thanks Georgie.”
Ayoub: “No worries mate. That was a great try but gees that last pass looked a bit dodgy.”
Since then scope creep of the Tea Making Official has been incremental and allowed to expand unchecked.
“Let’s face it, Super Rugby is so boring these days the Tea Making Officials are just trying to pass the time. It’s nothing we could have planned for or reasonably foreseen however we’re clear in our commitment to get the Tea Making Officials to get back to basics and focus on half-time catering rather than trying to make the game as boring for everyone else as it is for them.”
World Rugby has been approached for comment.