Tank Lanning

Empower the TMO

2016-03-31 08:32
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

Some of these conversations between the match referee and his TMO are taking longer than the inane chats my wife has with her yoga buddies!

It’s a flipping horror show and needs to stop.

Do you remember the conversation between TMO Marius Jonker and referee Jaco Peyper about that Josh Mann-Rea punch/elbow on Oli Kebble at Newlands two weeks back?

About the only thing they did not chat about was his brand of deodorant. It felt like we were listening in on a private phone conversation as Jonker eventually persuaded Peyper to issue a red card in the most roundabout way.

World Rugby is trying to put more power in the hands of the referee by limiting the amount of questions he can ask his TMO, and then allowing him to take in the incident replayed on the stadium big screen in order to make a call himself.

I say horse manure to that.

If we are going to use TMOs, then empower them to make the final decision. Not all stadium big screens are created equal, so allowing referees to use them is unfair. The TMO has access to a nice big HD flat screen, so if the referee is unsighted or unsure for whatever reason, allow the man with the best view to make the call.

And what’s with the standardising of questions asked, thus limiting the TV referee's involvement to only answering said question? Surely it’s a case of “Take a look and see if you spot anything untoward?”

And if so, then be gone with trainee referees taking up these positions. Instead let’s extend the lives of the top referees in the game by “promoting” them to the TMO box when the legs or waistline give in. Instead of having Jonathan Kaplan disputing calls with the rest of us on Twitter (a sensational follow BTW), let’s have him facing the music in the TMO box.

We need people to trust the system, not laugh openly at it.

One can understand limiting the TMO involvement to certain phases of the game, lest we get to American Football levels where a single game takes 4 hours to get through. A simple white card system allowing the skipper or coach to query two calls during a game would provide a neat solution that would also spice up the game a bit.

Where we do have a bit of a problem is home town TV producers showing only the replays on the stadium big screen that portray the opposition in a bad light. A case in point being Crusaders wing Johnny McNicholl’s foot being spotted brushing the touchline as part of a (truly sensational) try against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Had that game been played in Christchurch, might their TV producer have chosen not to show that particular replay? And then because it had not been referred to the TMO by the referee, the try would have been allowed to stand.

I am not pointing any fingers here, merely making use of the incident as an example.

Now if our ultra-experienced, and empowered TMO was sitting in the Outside Broadcast van next to said producer, thus seeing all the replays available, and not just the ones being shown on TV or the big screen, then we would have knocked over one more green bottle of beer with the same stone!

Tank Lanning is a former Western Province prop, current editor of the all new www.vodacomrugby.co.zawebsite that allows you to rate the SA players, and vociferous Tweeter from @frontrowgrunt.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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