Borrowing A Solution

Posted: September 21, 2015 in Uncategorized
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With the Rugby World Cup now dominating every second conversation, the subject of the TMO is never far away. It seems that the video referee is being called on for everything and anything. Games are stopped, clear tries are questioned, every second tackle or ruck clearout is brought into dispute. The majority of referees are no longer backing their own decisions.

The first half of the England Fiji world cup opener stretched on for 52 minutes, and didn’t offer the electric rugby that fans spent (a lot of) their money on. 12 minutes of replays for the fans, with 12 minutes of players’ intensity and concentration slipping away.

For anyone not in the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, referee Romain Poite was booed when calling upon the TMO. To his credit, a try was clearly knocked on and subsequently disallowed. On the other hand, play was stopped while Wales had possession, an illegal clearout by Uruguay was shown on the screen, and Wales kicked the penalty to touch. The whole process took over two minutes, and as a result Wales had a lineout 15 yards from where play was stopped. What a waste of time.

The IRB will need to bring about some changes to the system, but which? Nobody wants poor refereeing decisions due to lack of evidence, nor do they want constant stoppages. In my opinion, a simple solution could be to imitate the ideas of another sport. In cricket, a video referee may be used by the officials in order to make correct decisions on tough calls, much like rugby. But added to that, both captains are offered two appeals.


In Layman’s terms, a captain can choose to appeal a referee’s decision twice a game. If he is correct in his appeal, he still has two further opportunities to appeal a decision. However, if he is wrong, he loses one opportunity and only has one further appeal. That appeal can be used immediately, at the end of the game, or not at all. But in a close game, it would have to be used wisely.

If applied to rugby, this rule could save everyone an abundance of TMO decisions, and the honestly of the players would come to the forefront of the game. Players would no longer run back to halfway knowing they will have to return for a scrum or 22 drop out after three minutes of pointless deliberation. Players would no longer badger the referee in the hope he’ll see an infraction in the phases leading up to the try. They themselves would be forced to admit: yes or no, try or no try. If they were positive and adamant they were correct, then cash in their appeal.

In addition, the referee would still have the TMO option at their disposal, but this implementation would only work if the referees start backing their own decisions and interpretations of what they saw. The referee’s decision is final, and teams can bemoan or celebrate him or her afterwards, just like in past years. Fans would be rewarded with fewer replays, the intensity of the game would remain high, and the concentration level of the players would not diminish.

Perhaps this system may cause some consternation, and a number of fans may or not be satisfied with the new process. But if it stopped the abomination that is 52 minutes for one half of rugby due to constant replays, how bad an option could it be.


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