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Aviva Premiership
RFU defends Television Match Official trial
ESPN Staff
September 3, 2012
The scoreboard reveals a decision by the Television Match Official, Wasps v Harlequins, Aviva Premiership, Twickenham, London, England, September 1, 2012
The scoreboard at Twickenham reveals a decision by the Television Match Official © Getty Images
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Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership
Teams: England

The Rugby Football Union has defended the new powers for Television Match Officials (TMO) that made a headline-grabbing debut in the opening round of the Aviva Premiership.

An extension to the scope of TMOs to include all the play leading up to a score instead of just the act of scoring is being trialled in English rugby's top flight and immediately had an impact with London Wasps denied what could have been a crucial try in the first half of their epic defeat to Harlequins due to a marginal forward pass in the build-up.

The decision, prompted by intervention from the assistant referee and one of three made with the help of the TMO during the game, drew scorn from ESPN analyst Austin Healey while former England coach Sir Clive Woodward took to Twitter to air his concerns, writing:"Shocking new rule -- TJ (touch judge) will follow the ball, very dangerous re foul play + totally changes the game, awful."

But Ed Morrison, the RFU's head of elite referee development, has defended the trial and has urged all stakeholders to give it time before drawing conclusions."Nothing is foolproof and it is new territory," Morrison told The Times. "Not every infringement will be picked up. But I just hope that we can get to the correct outcome because livelihoods and careers can depend upon it. The most important thing is we do what is best for the game. There were issues when the review system was introduced into cricket. Now no one blinks an eye."

The new TMO powers were also on show in second game of the traditional London Double Header between Saracens and London Irish with two incidents of foul play punished with yellow cards and like the four judgements made on scoring plays, all appeared to be correct on review.

Morrison added that the trial, and a similar one in South Africa's Currie Cup, would be monitored throughout the season before reports are made to the International Rugby Board with tweaks to the trial a possibility.

"If we feel after six weeks there is something wrong in how it is being managed, I would like to think we would be big enough if we are doing something fundamental that is affecting the game in a negative way to look at that," Morrison said.

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