Sanzar boss Peters cool on bigger TMO role
Sanzar boss Greg Peters has hinted television match officials will not have their jurisdiction extended during next year's Super Rugby season.
Peters is lukewarm about the TMO being allowed to review possible infringements during try-scoring movements and incidents of foul-play, citing reservations about how it will delay games and frustrate fans.
He is also concerned that if Sanzar agrees to implement the TMO changes it will create the messy situation where Super Rugby is played under different guidelines to the northern tournaments.
The International Rugby Board's rugby committee, which is chaired by ex-All Blacks captain Graham Mourie, will review the TMO changes that have been trialled under Law 6.A.6 in South Africa's Currie Cup and the English Premiership competition, on December 21.
Super Rugby's opening round will be staged on February 15 - well before the IRB council has time to assess and recommend any findings. The council is scheduled to meet again next May.
"I think the jury is still out on this," Peters said.
"It will be a big ask (to change the rules around the TMO), given the IRB hasn't met to discuss them by the time our competition has started."
Mourie could not be reached for comment yesterday.
While the abbreviated scrum engagement sequence and rule demanding players use the ball within 5sec from rucks and mauls will be adopted by Sanzar - both proved a success during New Zealand's NPC - Peters was concerned the TMO's interference would annoy fans.
"There is also a lot of subjectivity around it - things like who initiates the review, the referee or the TMO? How far do you go back in the movement? Was there foul play downfield, was there a forward pass back on the 22m and if it was a line-ball you have to take the camera angle into account too."
One concern aired to the New Zealand Rugby Union's high performance referee manager when he met with their franchises last month was that assistant referees would opt-out of making quick decisions.
During the Currie Cup and English Premiership matches some assistant referees immediately referred decisions to the TMO instead of having the courage to make the call themselves. The TMO's review slows the game and can anger spectators.
"Sanzar will want to be very, very clear on the extent of the protocols if anything is to be changed at all," Peters added.
"We don't want fans to get confused. It can seem simple but it's not. There is so much subjectivity."
If the TMO is allowed to assist on-field officials in clarifying incidents of foul play it would defuse controversies such as the one that embroiled All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore when he felled Welsh lock Bradley Davies with a smack to the head in Cardiff last month.
Although Peters said Sanzar hadn't completely dismissed the concept of the TMO being given more scope, he remained cautious.
"This is something I would prefer to see introduced across the whole game, not just in selected competitions . . . if the recommendations are very clear in stating how they should be used it is possible we will implement them."