FAN’S VIEW: TMO or no TMO – that is the question for man with the whistle
Bath Rugby supporter Glyn Edwards gives his take on events at The Rec...
As the season progresses, one talking point after every weekend's fixtures so far has been the part played by key refereeing decisions in the results of certain matches.
The advent of the Television Match Official in recent seasons has not won universal approval amongst the rugby public – nor from all coaches and players – as some traditionalists consider that it detracts from the erstwhile absolute authority of the referee.
For the most part, however, there is a much better chance that correct decisions will eventually be made when a TMO is able to study available camera angles – and that must surely be for the overall good of the game, as well as for referees' reputations.
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Bath suffered two weeks ago against London Welsh when Andrew Small declared that Dave Attwood had been 'held-up' over the line on the stroke of half-time. Former Rec forward, Dan Browne, confirmed later that his team-mates on the spot thought Attwood's 'try' should have stood, and that a TMO would have awarded it.
The same referee was left badly exposed at Wasps last season when he denied Bath's Ben Williams a perfectly legitimate score. The large replay screen clearly showed his glaring error moments later, but there was no TMO to adjudicate – only the crowd.
Unlike the round-ball game, at least rugby union has recognised that professional games in the Premiership are sufficiently dissimilar from 3rd XV contests at Little Rissingdale-on-the-Avon so as not to inhibit technological help for elite referees on those grounds.
If it can be afforded, then why not use it – 'officiating technology', the best physiotherapy and conditioning science, or sports psychology. But affordability – or the lack of it – does seem to be the reason why not all Premiership matches have a TMO facility this season, despite this being planned last year.
It would seem only fair – and logical – to apply the same conditions consistently throughout the entirety of a competition. After all, every team would likely benefit and suffer equally from the availability of conclusive evidence – but, importantly, decisions would routinely be based upon fact rather than opinion.
Come along and hear the views of Tony Spreadbury on the lack of TMOs at all top-level matches and his opinion of the IRB's fast-tracking of Glen Jackson from Saracens fly-half to international referee in just over two years.
No doubt he'll tell us exactly what he thinks when he entertains the Supporters' Club at another of his fascinating Ask the Ref evenings next Tuesday (November 20). Non-members are welcome, but booking is essential – see www.allez-bath.co.uk for details.