Super Rugby to test new TMO Protocol

SANZAAR, the body overseeing the Super Rugby season, has announced an amendment to the Television Match Official (TMO) protocol for the 2017-18 season. The amendment only covers Vodacom Super Rugby fixtures.

What’s different in 2017?

If the referee, assistant referees or TMO wants to initiate a review, the referee will first give his “on-field decision” based on his real-time view. The TMO will then review the incident based on the referee’s initial assessment.

The TMO must be persuaded that the evidence is compelling before overturning the call.

The list of incidents available to be referred for review remains the same as the World Rugby Protocol, including the “two phases back only” protocol still stands.

Shaun V TMO pic
Super Rugby TMO, Shaun Veldsman pictured on duty

The only exception to this process is in the case of a potential foul play incident.  The referee can choose to review the incident on the big screen (or request the TMO to review it if the replay screen is of poor quality) with no “on-field decision” prior to the review.

SANZAAR suggest that this amendment reflects the emerging technology that is now available in terms of the number of camera angles and the use of split-screen television software. It also want to tighten the process and make it more accurate, more efficient and to reduce the time taken for the decision-making process.

Commenting on the new protocol SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said, “The general consensus is that with the new technology and the protocol of a definitive “on-field call”, time is saved and the awkward conversation between referee and TMO that occurs from time to time is eliminated.”

“SANZAAR is confident this will enhance the fan’s match experience. This also aligns our sport’s process with that of almost all the other high performance sports, which use a television replay protocol.”

“In summary, this protocol change makes the process clean and efficient and places accountability for an “on-field call” in the hands of the referee and a review of that decision in the hands of the TMO,” added Marinos.’s view: Anything to help officials make more accurate decisions is to be applauded, but we dont really see the benefit here. Most TMO referrals are for foul play, which this amendment doesn’t cover. Most other TMO referrals relate to the scoring of tries – grounding etc. In most cases, the referee currently steers the conversation – for example “The grounding is OK, but can you check for a foot in touch.” Other scenarios where this amendment could be used include forward passes or knock ons, where the on-field officials should be owning the decisions, would barely be used. We wonder what scenarios SANZAAR had in mind when looking at these amendments? Let’s have your thoughts in the comments below.