Despite the positive intentions of World Rugby, the TMO has now become one of the biggest issues in rugby, and must be stopped.
Although, we don’t necessarily have to do away with the TMO, reigning in their use would help game’s flow better, and ensure a better experience for fans watching on both in the stands and at home.
Unfortunately, what started out as an innovative idea has now become one of the biggest bug bears of fans who are forced to sit for minutes at a time whilst TMO’s watch and rewatch twenty different angles of a slight nudge off the ball ten phases before a try was scored that eventually results in an otherwise perfectly good score being ruled out for a totally innocuous incident.
With that in mind, here are five changes that we believe can help redress the balance and ensure the TMO does not overly interfere with games, whilst still being a positive influence on games. Any incidents that occur outside of the below remit can then be cited and dealt with appropriately after a game when it doesn’t impact on the viewing experience, after all, rugby is meant to be a form of entertainment;l
1.The TMO can only be called on in try scoring situations…
The idea here is that instead of using the TMO to check in on every minor infringement, they can only be used in the instance of when a try may have been scored. This will help to alleviate the ridiculous amount of time fans are left sat around waiting for the TMO to watch twenty different clips from every angle imaginable, only to confirm, yes the ball did move three inches forward twenty phases back.
2….and only go three phases back
Instead of looking back over 10 or 20 phases of play to make sure a slight knock on didn’t occur, the TMO should only be used to check incidents that happened within the final three phases of play before the ball was taken over the line. This would ensure players in touch, and knock ons in the red zone are still penalised, whilst minor incidents that occur in the build up in the attacking team’s own half don’t impact an otherwise perfectly good try.
3.The benefit of the doubt must lie with the attacking team….
Currently referee’s ask TMO’s either ‘is there any reason I cannot award the try?’ or ‘try, yes or no?’. This often leads to defending players throwing themselves over the grounded ball to blur the vision of the TMO and often leads to tries ruled out as no camera angle provides definitive proof. Instead, TMO’s should always assume a try has been scored, unless there is clear evidence otherwise. This would encourage attacking rugby as teams are more likely to be rewarded for their endeavours.
4….except when attacking players throw themselves over the ball
This may encourage players on the attacking team to instead throw themselves on top of the ball knowing that the try will be awarded as the TMO cannot see the ball being held up. Therefore, the decision to award the try would be reversed should a player from the attacking team deliberately throw themselves on top of the ball once the player who carried it over the line has stopped moving.
5.The clock must be reset to when an incident occurred
At present, even if play goes back several phases, the time spent afterwards is still used up on the clock. This new rule would mean that if a try is ruled out due to an incident in the three last phases of play, the clock is reset to the time when it occurred. This may only result in five or ten seconds being added back onto the clock, but in a tight game, this could be the difference between having time for a penalty or not.