Coaches divided on TMO’s extra powers
AFTER eight Currie Cup rounds, coaches are not fully convinced that the experimental laws, which have extended the television match official’s powers, have had a positive effect on the game.
Earlier this year, the International Rugby Board introduced TMO law trials designed to ensure accurate match officiating and sanctioning that gave the man in the video booth more of the play to review.
When a try has been scored, the trial laws state that the referee can call upon the TMO to review the build up towards the try if there is suspicion that an infringement occurred as far back as the last restart (set piece, penalty, free-kick or kick- off) but not further than two previous rucks and-or mauls.
Sharks coach John Plumtree, whose team has caught the attention of the man upstairs quite often in the past two weeks, is against the changes.
“I don’t like it; it’s slowing the game down too much and the TMO is having too much influence. I think now we’re going to have to see TMOs that are very good at their jobs and they are going to have to be as important as referees,” he said.
Previously, the TMO would be called on only to spot when a try was being scored whether the try- scorer had grounded the ball in goal, avoided touch, wasn’t held up and didn’t commit double movement. Or if there was any reason for the referee not to award the try, or simply: “Try, no try.”
One of the contentious TMO decision so far this season happened when Sharks hooker Pieter Dixon was red-carded in the 13-12 nail-biting win over the Blue Bulls last Friday for allegedly kicking an opponent on the ground on the advice of Johann Meuwesen.
However, the ensuing SA Rugby disciplinary hearing found that “the awarding of the red card was incorrect” as the boot to the face of the Bulls player was accidental.
Disciplinary officer Jannie Lubbe ruled that Dixon’s red card “should be removed from the player’s record”.
“They are going to have to be consistent and accountable just like referees and if they don’t have a good game then they’ll have to be shifted,” Plumtree said.
Griquas coach Pote Human believes the referee has been emasculated by the TMO being awarded more powers.
“Sometimes it works, but sometimes I really think they are not worth it. Last week when we played against the Cheetahs there was a forward pass that [even] the Cheetahs players said was a forward pass — but the TMO said it was not.
“I don’’t agree with them taking the responsibility from the ref because I think the ref must be the sole judge of acts on the field,” Human said.
But, Lions coach Johan Ackermann and Bulls coach Pine Pienaar are more optimistic about the experiment’s effect.
“I think it’s a good system. Winning and losing sometimes depends on one or two critical decisions and if the TMO can give a positive outcome then it’s a good thing. I don’t feel that the game is slowing down too much,” said Ackermann, whose team benefited against the Sharks two weeks ago when the TMO couldn’t find conclusive evidence that there was a knock-on in the lead-up to one of their tries.
Pienaar said: “The amount of stoppages and stopped time is a concern but if the TMO’s call helps referees make better decisions on the field, which can cost or win you a game, then I agree totally with the [extended] use of the TMO.”
On the fence sat Western Province assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot, who said the game was already reliant on technology, therefore it must be explored to its fullest.