Fans rejoice as Super Rugby announces the role of television review officials will be restricted and ‘painstaking stoppages’ clamped down on
- Rules changes for Super Rugby 2023
- TMO interruptions will be fewer
- Expect there to be less time wasting
The role of oft-maligned television match officials (TMO) will be curtailed in a concerted effort to speed up play in Super Rugby Pacific.
TMO interruptions will be restricted to serious clear and obvious dangerous play as powerbrokers look to reduce painstaking stoppages that have been a blight on rugby in recent years.
Time restrictions on goal kicks, set pieces and rucks and a streamlined TMO process were among a raft of other fan-centric law innovations announced on Tuesday in the hope of offering a faster, more fluid game.
But it is the slated reduced involvement of often overly zealous TMOs that is likely to please spectators most.
NSW Waratahs star Will Harris makes a run during last year’s quarter-final. Super Rugby organisers will be hoping for even more open field play in 2023
TMOs can only intervene to investigate serious, clear and obvious incidents of dangerous play missed by the on-field referee and linespeople.
Referees can use the TMO to make a yellow-card decision, but any extended video reviews will take place only after the player has left the field, not before the yellow card is issued.
The TMO will have eight minutes to either uphold a 10-minute yellow-card decision or upgrade it to a 20-minute red card, in which case the player will not return to the field, but can still be replaced.
Referees now also have the power to issue a full red card for deliberate foul play, in which case the player will not return to the field and cannot be replaced.
Super Rugby Pacific organisers are hoping to cut down on the myriad of painstaking stoppages, including continual scrum resets, this season
Super Rugby Pacific tournament director Matt Barlow said the innovations agreed to by teams and with the support of World Rugby were designed to make the game more entertaining for fans and safer and more enjoyable for players.
‘We want Super Rugby Pacific to be the most entertaining, innovative and fastest professional rugby competition in the world,’ Barlow said.
‘We’ve listened to our fans and taken steps to reduce stoppages and video replays, increase flow and maintain the integrity of the competition and the safety of players in regard to yellow and red cards.
‘Players, coaches and referees are excited about these innovations, and we believe they will create a better fan experience both at the game and for those watching on television.’
Waratahs forward Geoff Cridge palms off the ball after a line-out against the Reds last season
He said player welfare would not be jeopardised by the law innovations, which would place more spotlight on dangerous and foul play without such a big impact on the viewing experience for spectators.
‘The review process for dangerous play will be as vigorous as ever and we believe TMOs will be able to make better judgments about the seriousness of foul play offences without the pressure of having to watch replays under stressful time constraints,’ Barlow said.
‘There is also the addition of a stronger deterrent for deliberate foul play, with the referee having the option of issuing a full red card.
‘We know players and fans don’t want to watch multiple frame-by-frame replays while they wait for the match to resume, so we believe we’ve struck the right balance.’
Referees like Nic Berry, pictured at a Super Rugby match last year, have been tasked with speeding the game up drastically
He said it was also important to maintain the integrity of the game by making sure crucial decisions were not rushed.
‘TMOs will still be reviewing the two phases before a try is scored and can still be called upon by the referee to check things like the ball being grounded when a try has been scored,’ Barlow said.
‘The difference will be the match official team will lead the process, and viewers will not see as many replays.’
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