Rugby Union - 2014-15 Aviva Premiership Season Launch - Twickenham Stadium

Rugby matches should not have as many unnecessary breaks for decisions being referred to television match officials, according to a top official.

The referees at Aviva Premiership matches have been instructed to take greater responsibility for decisions and avoid delays.

There was a dramatic increase of decisions where TMOs were consulted last season, when the power for officials to review footage of incidents of foul play and up to two phases before a try was extended to every game.


A knock-on effect of the change meant some matches lasted substantially longer than 80 minutes with the inevitable loss in momentum frustrating supporters, players and coaches.

Acting on guidance from the International Rugby Board, the Rugby Football Union body responsible for referees has responded by issuing new instructions.

“The TMO was one of the major talking points of last season,” said Wayne Barnes, England’s leading official.

“We were rightfully criticised by clubs and the media because we weren’t as good as we needed to be. Our aim for this season is to be better.


“We want to try and take more responsibility. If we’re in a good position to see whether a pass is forward or not, we should be calling it.

“Let’s not send it to the TMO and take two or three minutes out of the game.

“Let’s make as many decisions on the pitch as we can. We should be making decisions ourselves.”

Tony Spreadbury, head of the RFU’s professional game match officials, wants referees to adopt a less fussy approach.

“There has been a tendency to say ’we better check this’ or ’we better check that’. But we want none of that now,” Spreadbury said.

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