Red card warning for diffident rugby refs

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013

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Super Rugby officials who rely too heavily on television match officials risk getting the chop.

With an extended TMO protocol being trialled as part of the International Rugby Board global trial, Sanzar referees boss Lyndon Bray has warned anyone who makes unnecessary referrals risks being dumped.

While officials are now empowered to ask TMOs to consider "clear and obvious" infringements - up to two phases - before a try is scored, and assist identifying players who commit foul play, there is a risk the whistle blowers and linesmen may lose their nerve and repeatedly ask the "man upstairs" to shoulder the difficult decisions.

This, in turn, risks slowing matches down and frustrating players and fans. It is also likely to annoy the broadcasters.

Such nonsense, said Bray, is unlikely to be tolerated.

"The critical aspect of the TMO is he is only there as a back-up if the referee is in huge doubt - if his view is blocked or he is caught out of position," Bray said.

"Everyone wants to see a referee who can make their own decisions. It's only there to back up a referee if he has big doubts about something.

"We have definitely made it clear to back themselves. They shouldn't be referring all the time for the sake of getting it right."

When the extended protocols were recently trialled in England's Aviva Championship and South Africa's Currie Cup, the earlier rounds were blighted by referees hampered by incompetent linesmen who were scared witless to make easy decisions.

Bray, however, was confident the Sanzar officials would prove more competent.

Bray said Sanzar had TMOs receive training via the IRB and their national unions, with the New Zealanders falling under the responsibility of ex-referee Vinny Munro.

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