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SANZAR open to increased TMO use
ESPNscrum Staff
June 10, 2011
O'Connor shown the red card but was later cleared by SANZAR © Getty Images
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SANZAR referees supremo Lyndon Bray has revealed they are investigating increasing the influence of television technology to help match officials.

The debate over the use of Television Match Officials (TMO) was re-ignited last weekend with two incidents leading to calls for referees to be able to refer incidents of suspected foul play to the TMO.

In the first, South African assistant referee Pro Legoete reported a headbutt by Waratahs second-rower Pat O'Connor against the Bulls in Pretoria, leaving referee Craig Joubert with no option but to use the red card. A subsequent SANZAR judiciary hearing found no evidence of a deliberate headbutt and took no further action.

In the second incident, Reds winger Digby Ioane was knocked out cold by a high shot from Brumbies No.8 Ita Vaea that went unnoticed by match referee Garrat Williamson and the sideline official.

Bray will conduct a review of this season's Super Rugby tournament after the final on July 9 and is open to the idea of expanding the role of the TMO to help referees in game-changing moments. SANZAR will collate their own findings before taking them to the International Rugby Board who govern how the game is played and officiated.

"Where we have a collective agreement, we go in with one voice," Bray told The Australian. "There are two different ways it could go - the IRB could implement a change across the whole game or we might put it to the IRB that we would like to pilot a particular idea. But you need the sanction of the IRB."

Despite admitting that the TMO could help the referee on such occasions, Bray is wary of handing them too much influence. "These are definitely the sorts of things we'll continue to look at but we've got to be careful we don't reach a point where the TMO becomes a referral point for just about everything," Bray said. "Where does it stop?"

South African referees boss Andre Watson also advocates an increase in TMO influence, but similar to Bray, he is cautious over just how influential TMO's should become. Watson was speaking after the controversial Sharks-Cheetahs match where the Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské believed the referee Marius Jonker missed five yellow card offences.

"It's easy for someone to say: use technology. It's not that simple because the guy in the 'box' may be a specialist TMO - in other words, an expert on the in-goal area - but not necessarily a better referee than the guy on the field," Watson told Sport24

"Furthermore, the call just shifts from one guy to another. I am completely against the match being officiated from the pavilion or from behind a computer screen," he said. "There is a place for certain applications, for example when a referee wants clarity over possible foul play, a pass that led to a try and so forth.

"We have experimented with that in South Africa for two seasons and made a submission to the International Rugby Board (IRB). They have put it on ice until after the 2011 World Cup."

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