TMO specialists here to stay

After an initial trial period in the 2006 Absa Currie Cup, the Television Match Official is set to become a specialist position in next year’s domestic and regional competitions.

Andre Watson, South African Rugby manager of referees’ affairs confirmed the change had been approved and will be implemented in 2007.

“We will apply it in the Currie Cup and Super 14 competitions,” Watson said. “As a matter of fact, TMOs have already been specialising in this year’s Currie Cup matches.”

Although the cost of applying the new system to the regional tournament will prove expensive, Watson expects it to be given the rugby authorities’ full backing.

“We saw five mistakes by TMOs in Super 14 matches this year. So far in this year’s Currie Cup competition, in which it was a specialist job, not a single mistake has been made in 43 matches.

“We are not saying it won’t happen, but we hope the chances will decrease.”

The process of TMO selection is still under scrutiny, and it is likely that the current referees will be favoured for the job, with Shaun Veldsman being one who is already tipped to make the switch. The competition for the job should be intense, as there are only a limited number of places available in the new system.

“Only two or three matches are being televised on any given day,” Watson continued. “Referees will have the opportunity to decide what they want to do, but we will then decide who will become TMOs.

“If we feel a referee is not quite up to it and may be unable to keep up with play, we can appoint him as a TMO.”