Watson lauds TMO initiative

Saru head of referees Andre Watson says the new TMO methods used in the Currie Cup have had a positive effect on the game.

The initiative allows the TMO to have a greater influence when reviewing a try-scoring act. It has been used frequently by the on-field officials during the Currie Cup campaign, with potential offences (like forward passes and obstruction) regularly being checked.

This is a positive move as there have been controversial calls made before because of the restriction on communication between referees and the TMO.

However, the new method has received mixed reactions from players and pundits

There have been complaints whether a TMO can actually call a forward pass if he doesn’t have the proper replay angles. The Sharks were also denied a potential match-winning try for obstruction at the death against Griquas in Kimberely, which saw the latter hold on for a 22-15 win. The foul occurred two phases before the try-scoring act, and it was a harsh call.

But Watson supports this development.

‘There have been some great calls, and few not-so-great calls,’ Watson told keo.co.za. ‘But overall, the initiative has been very successful. It’s only the beginning and the process will only get better with time.

‘The people who have complained do not understand the rules. In terms of the forward pass, the TMO does not need any specific angle or a measuring line to make the call – it depends on the direction the ball moves out of hand.

‘In terms of looking for transgressions during the build-up, the TMO is allowed to review everything that occurred in general play during the two phases before the try-scoring act. A phase includes all scrums, lineouts, rucks and mauls.’

Watson added that if this TMO initiative continues to achieve successful results, it could feature at higher levels as soon as next season.

‘We will be discussing the overall results with the IRB. We are hoping that it could be used in Super Rugby next year. It’s a great development as a referee gets a proper review of a try-scoring act, which is the most influential part of the game. We want the right calls to be made.’

Meanwhile, Watson confirmed that match-day squads for Tests and Super Rugby games could increase to 23 players in the near future. Club games in Europe, the IRB Junior World Championship, South Africa’s provincial U19 tournament and the Varsity Cup have all allowed teams to field 23-man squads.

This has been good for the game as it allows coaches to have two props on the bench, which stamps out uncontested scrums.

‘This is something that’s being discussed. We still have to hear from the teams if they will back it, as it does mean they’ll need more players in their squad. This will have financial implications. From a law perspective, I do think it’s the way forward.’

By Gareth Duncan