Ex referee Bob Francis wants less use of TMO

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:04 18/04/2013
Luke Romano
Getty Images
UNLUCKY: Luke Romano had two tries disallowed during the Crusaders' 16-14 defeat to the Western Force.

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Former IRB referee selector Bob Francis says television match officials now have too much power.

Last weekend Crusaders lock Luke Romano had two tries disallowed during the 16-14 defeat to the Western Force after ref Jonathan Kaplan referred both decisions to TMO George Ayoub.

On the first occasion, Kaplan asked for the review of a forward pass about 40m downfield and there has been debate whether they went outside the permitted two-phase limit.

Later Kaplan told Ayoub he believed another try had been scored but recanted when the TMO advised he couldn't see the ball being grounded.

A new trial system now allows referees and their assistants to refer the lead-up to tries to the TMO.

"I don't think they have got the right balance," said ex-test referee Francis. "There is some merit in what they are trialling but I think going back to halfway and looking for knock-ons is going too far. Some adjustments are needed."

Francis also believed Kaplan should have phrased his question better before asking for a review of Romano's second try.

"A better question is ‘can you give me a reason why I cannot award the try?'. I think the good referees should be making those judgements and just asking for confirmation."

The trial continues until the end of the competition.

While in favour of ensuring the ball is correctly grounded and reviewing acts of foul play, Francis was also concerned assistant referees were referring difficult decisions to the TMO instead of shouldering that responsibility themselves.

"There is also a risk, eventually, that the referees will not be making those decisions and that will be a retrograde step."

Having suffered close defeats to the Western Force and the Sharks in recent weeks the Crusaders have been miffed about being on the end of several questionable calls.

This week, scrum coach Dave Hewett said he was sick of receiving post-match apologies from referees for wrongly penalising his props.

Kaplan raised the Crusaders' ire by refusing to listen when they complained that Force tighthead prop Salesi Ma'afu was at fault.

South African Kaplan will retire this year and Francis reckons his tendency to be dismissive of players is a reflection that he is ready to look for new work.

"He's had a wonderful career. He's still a very competent referee but you can go on too long. "

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