Friday, 31 August 2012

Premiership Rugby needs consistency on TMOs

I wrote this article for The Rugby Paper at the start of August. A month on, and with the Premiership season starting tomorrow, it would be nice to see some progress here. For the sake of fairness, there surely needs to be equality of technological assistance for the referee across all matches.

Plans to introduce Television Match Officials at all Aviva Premiership matches for the forthcoming season have stalled as clubs ponder whether to stump up the £350,000 needed.

Talks over the use of TMOs at non-broadcast matches have gone quiet since a four-match trial at the end of last season.

Among those leading the push for the blanket use of TMOs are Exeter, but the Chiefs chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe, says discussions among the Premiership Rugby board have been limited since the trial ended on April 21.

Rowe says Premiership clubs between them already pay over £1 million per season towards elite refereeing, making further costs for TV adjudication difficult for some clubs to bear. He believes the RFU should step in and shoulder some of the financial burden.

Exeter benefited during last season's TMO trial, with a match-winning try at Gloucester awarded to them after it was referred to the TV official.

"We would like to see TMOs at every match," said Rowe. "We would vote for it. TMOs are very important to the game. We have got to have enough strategically-placed cameras.

"After the game at Kingsholm we think it's a must going forward. I think there is widespread support but the issue fora lot of clubs is a financial one - having to pay for all the cameras.

"I don't know how long it would take to introduce. I've not been involved in any discussions since the trial last season."

Explaining why he believes the RFU should chip in, Rowe said: "Well over £1 million a year is paid by Premiership Rugby to the RFU for elite refereeing. At the moment, the money involved has got to come from Premiership Rugby rather than the RFU.

"The RFU wants elite rugby and makes most of its money from elite rugby with events at Twickenham so I think they should [contribute financially]."

Currently, only live Premiership matches broadcast by either Sky or ESPN benefit from TMOs. When Premiership Rugby announced the four-game trial at non broadcast matches last season, it said it was being carried out to help ensure the integrity of the competition.

A Premiership Rugby spokesman said this week: "It is an important innovation and it's something that could be reignited over the next couple of weeks.

"It will be on the agenda at the next Premiership Rugby board meeting in September. It's something that needs to be agreed by all clubs."

The broader use of TMOs is under consideration by the IRB, which in May announced it was considering widening TMOs' jurisdiction so they can rule on incidents of foul play, as well as play leading up to a try.

But Rowe is doubtful whether the Premiership will see the uniform use of TMOs at any point this season.

"If I was a betting man, which I'm not, I'd bet they won't be introduced this season - and that's because there's money involved," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment