Sanzar cautious over bigger TMO role

From Planet Rugby

Sanzar CEO Greg Peters has hinted that it’s unlikely that television match officials will have their jurisdiction extended during the 2013 Super Rugby season.

Peters remained non-commital when asked about the TMO being allowed to review possible infringements during try-scoring movements and incidents of foul-play, citing reservations about how it will delay matches and frustrate supporters.

He is also concerned that if Sanzar agrees to implement the TMO changes it will create a messy situation where Super Rugby is played under different guidelines to tournaments in the northern hemisphere.

The IRB’s rugby committee will review the TMO changes, that have been trialled in the Currie Cup and Aviva Premiership, on December 21.
Super Rugby will start on February 15 – well before the IRB council has time to assess and recommend any findings.
The council is set to meet again next May.
“I think the jury is still out on this,” Peters told Fairfax Media. “It will be a big ask (to change the rules around the TMO), given the IRB hasn’t met to discuss them by the time our competition has started.”

While Sanzar will adopt the abbreviated scrum engagement sequence and rule demanding players use the ball within five seconds from rucks and mauls Peters was concerned that the TMO’s interference would annoy fans.

“There is also a lot of subjectivity around it – things like who initiates the review, the referee or the TMO? How far do you go back in the movement? Was there foul play downfield, was there a forward pass back on the 22m and if it was a line-ball you have to take the camera angle into account too,” he added.

A concern raised by New Zealand’s franchises during a meeting with the New Zealand Rugby Union’s high performance referee manager is that assistant referees would opt-out of making quick decisions.

During the Currie Cup and Premiership matches some assistant referees immediately referred decisions to the TMO instead of having the courage to make the call themselves.
“Sanzar will want to be very, very clear on the extent of the protocols if anything is to be changed at all,” Peters added.

“We don’t want fans to get confused. It can seem simple but it’s not. There is so much subjectivity.”

Although Peters said Sanzar hadn’t completely dismissed the concept of the TMO being given more powers, he remained cautious.

“This is something I would prefer to see introduced across the whole game, not just in selected competitions… if the recommendations are very clear in stating how they should be used it is possible we will implement them.”