An executive gab-fest does not necessarily provide cause for confidence but international coaches are hopeful there will be agreement reached next week to disempower the role of the TMO and to clarify the difference between intentional and accidental foul play in rugby.

Inconsistent refereeing, random intrusion by TMOs and contradictory findings from judicial panels blighted the June tests, with every Tier One nation feeling aggrieved.

The rugby became secondary as players, coaches and fans tried to make sense of yellow and red card decisions that didn't appear fair and tried to understand why the rules were applied differently from game to game and even within the same game.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was so disillusioned by the end of the three test series against France that he risked sanction for speaking out, calling for World Rugby to take some ownership and provide clear answers as to which of the four officials in any given test are deemed to have ultimate authority.


Such has been the scale of the discontent and the desire for changes to be made ahead of the Rugby Championship, World Rugby have agreed to a review next week when council members are in San Francisco for the World Cup Sevens.

All nations were invited to submit their thoughts on how the game could be better and more consistently refereed and it is believed there has been near unanimous feedback from the Tier One nations that the TMO should no longer have licence to consistently interject to flag potential foul play.

Coaches and players have agreed they would rather leave the subject of foul play to the referee.

No one condones deliberate acts of violence or wants to endorse a new regime where players are under less scrutiny.

But there is consensus that in the past decade or so, rugby has been cleaned up and that genuine acts of deliberate foul play - punching, kicking, eye gouging, etc - have decreased significantly and are usually so obvious, the referee should be trusted to see them.

The new proposal is that the TMO should intervene only if asked by the referee. If the referee thinks he has seen foul play, he may ask for the TMO to review the incident and provide guidance on sanction.

If an obvious act of foul play is missed, there is the fallback of the citing commissioner to deal with the incident after the game.

Those advocating for this new system accept there will be a few low-end acts of unintentional foul play that may be missed, but that's an acceptable price to play to have greater clarity, understanding and flow.


The other main area in need of resolution is the business of how referees should be ruling collisions and contests in the air.

This has become one of the most contentious areas in world rugby after French fullback Benjamin Fall was wrongly sent off in Wellington for toppling Beauden Barrett and Israel Folau yellow-carded in Sydney against Ireland when it appeared as if the real cause of flanker Peter O'Mahony landing badly after contesting a high ball was the failure of his lifter to support him.

The big hope for players is that referees will be instructed to no longer base their decisions on the outcome of the collision or incident.

Fall was effectively red-carded in Wellington on the basis that Barrett landed badly and was concussed in the process.

If Barrett hadn't spun past the horizontal in the air, it is probable Fall would only have been yellow-carded and that's what is maddening with the existing rules. Players are being penalised according to things beyond their control rather than their intent.

The ideal outcome will be for referees to only consider outcome - how badly injured or impacted someone is - if they deem that the perpetrator acted with intent or undue recklessness.

It is expected that World Rugby will provide an update ahead of the Rugby Championship, which kicks off midway through next month.