Trial Law – TMO protocol explained

Written by Iza Loubser (Ice)

Posted in :Currie Cup, In the news, Original Content, Sharks, Springboks, The Rugby Championship, Vodacom Cup on 14 Aug 2012 at 10:52
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I have had a few questions posed to me regarding the new protocol of the TMO this past weekend – questions I could not answer. So I did a bit of digging and questioning as to what extend the TMO can be used during the trial of the possible new law.

I was rather delighted with the Law being used in the Lions / Cheetahs game. And even more so by the little time that was wasted in doing so.

Andrè Watson, South Africa’s general manager in charge of refereeing, has been a proponent of extending the jurisdiction of the television match official since 2008. These are his notes on the new protocol.

So, this might help explain some of the questions that were raised, courtesy of

“A  TMO may be referred to as per the current application, as well as:

1. When match officials are unsure whether foul play has occurred anywhere on the field or in-goal.
2. When match officials believe there may have been an infringement by the team that scored a try or touched down.
3. When match officials believe a try or touch down was prevented by an infringement.
4. To confirm the success or otherwise of kicks at goal.

Infringements listed by the IRB are:
• Knock-on
• Forward pass
• Player in touch
• Off-side
• Obstruction
• Tackling a player without the ball
• Foul play
• Double movement in act of scoring

How far do referrals go back to?
• From the previous restart which may be a penalty, a free kick, a line-out, a scrum or a kick-off.
• BUT not further back than two rucks or mauls.
• That means numerous tackles may occur.

How does TMO adjudicate?
• Only on the clear and OBVIOUS
• In fact here, I believe there must be NO DOUBT.
• If it is not clear, the TMO is to advise it did not happen or there is no clear evidence that it happened.
• TMO to advice on the infringement, the recommended sanction and where play is to restart.
TMO can be advised on infringements by the team that scored or touched down BUT also if a try has been prevented from being scored.

• Penalty tries may be recommended
• If there is doubt as to whether the try would have been scored the TMO must then advise the appropriate sanction.

If foul play is referred, the TMO is to make recommendations as to the appropriate sanctions.

The on-field match officials may use the stadium screens to form a judgment on the matter.

The TMO may mention incidents and issues in addition to those requested by the referee.

The TMO may mention potential infringements prior to the referee awarding a touch down and the referee may then if he sees fit, refer to the TMO.”

I still have a few questions but am awaiting answers from SA Refs – I will update on here when I do get them!


  • Thanks, nice one Ice!

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.08.12 11:24:06 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • There are some aspects which can definitely be open to abuse.

    Under “if foul play is suspected” match officials can make use of big screens at the ground……………this can, and one can see evidence of this being manipulated by the host broadcaster. How many times do we witness Ozzie and New Zealand broadcaster showing evidence of the opposition foul play…….but conveniently…………ignore their own sides transgressions.

    This is one of the issues I have with Supersport! They tend to go the other way and crucify us as we’ll.

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.08.12 12:38:15 by Bayshark Reply

  • @Bayshark (Comment 2) : I reckon this is used when the game is stopeed and a replay (like on TV) is displayed on the big screen (when you ask the TMO for a decision)….not just looking up whilst the game is in play and “oh wow, look at that knock on I missed” type of scenario….the refs attention will be at the game not watching the TV….

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.08.12 12:43:24 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Thnx ice!

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.08.12 21:10:34 by KILLER SHARK Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter

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