TMO system "clearly not working": SANZAAR boss

Super Rugby
by Iain Payten

SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos has responded to outrage over rugby officiating during the last month by admitting the Television Match Official system is “clearly not working” and in need of change.

SANZAAR will lobby World Rugby for significant alterations of the TMO protocols after the last month of Test and Super Rugby threw up a firestorm of criticism over refereeing, or as it conceded in a statement, “challenges within the match officiating processes in the game of rugby.”

Disillusioned coaches, players and fans have been furious about the impact of TMO interventions in games, which bring frustrating delays and have often led to game-damaging red cards.

The red card given to Sunwolves forward Ed Quirk at the weekend for a punch against Queensland was widely ridiculed as "soft", and despite the fact SANZAAR still issued the flanker with a two-week ban on Monday, Marinos acknowledged a few hours later that changes in the TMO protocols are needed.

“Match officiating is a very important component of our game that undergoes continuous review to keep abreast of law changes and specific directives passed down from World Rugby,” Marinos said.

“A major concern for us at present is the practical implementation of the Television Match Official (TMO) protocols. The protocols are clearly not working and a specific review is required in this area.”

“SANZAAR believes the appointed referee needs to remain the key decision maker on the field and that TMO interventions only provide context to the match officials’ decision making. We need better consistency in the application of the protocols and most would agree that perhaps this is not the case. The aim of the review will be to drive some operational changes to the protocols to ensure this consistency so that better outcomes are delivered.

 “SANZAAR is not empowered to adjust any protocols that have a direct affect on the Laws of the Game. However, we are keen to lead the discussion in this important area and following our review we will take our recommendations to World Rugby, the guardians of the Laws of Rugby, to ensure beneficial outcomes are achieved for the game.”

 It is understood SANZAAR, after discussions between referees boss Lyndon Bray and leading figures from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, will push World Rugby to amend the TMO protocols so only a referee can call for video replays during the game. 

 That would effectively end the ‘check, check’ interruptions throughout a game, and though foul play may be missed in the run of play, it would still be picked up by citing commissioners post-game.

 It is believed SANZAAR referees have already been given instruction to use the TMO less during the upcoming Super Rugby finals.