Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Take away the power of the TMO

Referee Nick Briant calls for the TMO. Photo / Getty
Referee Nick Briant calls for the TMO. Photo / Getty

It staggers me that match officials are still getting crucial decisions wrong, even with all the technology at their disposal.

I think the TMO holds too much power and, given the quality of TV coverage and the fact most stadiums have very good big screens, the on-field referee should make the decisions.

We've already seen a few big mistakes in this year's Super Rugby season. Last weekend the Hurricanes were awarded a try against the Blues even though Ardie Savea had clearly knocked the ball on - the TMO said it wasn't when viewed in real-time, which is rubbish - and that came on the back of Malakai Fekitoa's no-try for the Highlanders the previous week when he clearly planted the ball on the upright.

Then on Friday night we saw the TMO guessing in awarding the Waratahs a try from a maul and the referee also giving NSW a try when prop Tom Robinson was clearly offside - a quick check of the big screen would have shown that in a few seconds.

These sorts of decisions can decide matches and impact jobs. Mistakes or poor decisions by coaches and players are pulled apart, and often have consequences on their job security, but even though we debate referee's decisions they seem to be protected species.

They are paid to do a job, so make the right decisions.

In terms of the Hurricanes 'try' last weekend, both the referee and his assistant had their doubts, believing the ball had gone forward, but they were over-ruled by the TMO. It's doubtful the try would have been awarded had it been the referee's decision.

The on-field officials can see what has happened on the big screen so there's no reason why they can't make the decisions. On Friday night we were constantly told about the size of the screens in Sydney. Well, use them.

More often than not, the TMO is the least capable of the four referees so why are they charged with the important decisions?

By all means consult with the TMO but leave it up to the on-field referee to make the call. They have a better feel for the flow of the game and also a good view of the action as it unfolds.

It's what happens in sevens. A referee asks to see a contentious try on the big screen and then makes a decision, which seems a better way to handle it. Why can't they do the same thing in the 15-man game?

In saying all this, I believe rugby is using technology better than league and I would hate rugby to follow some of the things league has adopted.

League is taking an eternity to play these days because of the number of things referees are checking and I would hate to see multiple TMOs employed for a game like they do with the rugby league bunker.

And putting players on report is a joke. If a referee thinks something is bad enough to put them on report, then have the courage to send them to the sin-bin. The offending side aren't punished in any way if they're allowed to keep their full complement of players.

Rugby isn't too far off getting it right but take all the power away from the TMOs. Please.

- NZ Herald

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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