Cape Town - A second law change within a week has seen World Rugby take some of the power away from Television Match Officials (TMOs).
According to the World Rugby website, from the November end of year Tests, the 'on-the-run' conversations between referees and TMOs will be scrapped and referees will make final decisions on awarding tries.
The aim is to minimise the dialogue between referees and TMOs and, ultimately, limit the number of stoppages in a match.
TMOs can still be used during the game to review incidents, but the new protocol states that referrals should only be used when there "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".
"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," said World Rugby council member and rugby committee chairman John Jeffrey.
"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."
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 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
- 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.
The World Rugby working group who sat to decide the change, had no South African representation.
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).