I spy with my TMO eye

Getty Images     12 Apr 2013     Getty Images

It's a change the New Zealand referees are quickly realising is adding excitement, drama, and most importantly, great accuracy to rugby.

Former New Zealand professional referee Vinny Munro, now New Zealand Rugby's High Performance Referees Development Manager in charge of TMOs, says that the workload - and the intensity - for the guy in the TMO box, is huge.

"Previously the TMO didn't have to do anything til he was called in to review a try, but under these new protocols, everything has to be watched entirely on the TMO's TV monitor."

"The biggest challenge for referees has been adapting to the use of the technology- but we are seeing them getting more comfortable with this.

"There are eight scenarios where a TMO review can be used - and we've seen all but one of those in action in New Zealand," Munro said.

The only protocol New Zealand hasn't seen is the TMO-initiated review for foul play missed by the on-field referees.  He must do this at the next stoppage of play using the ref's code-talk call "TMO, TMO".

"What we're seeing are the referees getting smarter and quicker at using the TMO review to ensure a fair outcome.  It's fantastic because we know that we have a fourth set of eyes focussed 100% on the TV and we have greater accuracy," he said.

The ref can also now use the big screen when deciding on (only) foul play.

In summary:

- The referee, AR and TMO can refer incidents for review for tries scored and for foul play
- A TMO review of a touchdown can only be done before the try is awarded. Once the referee has given the try, this cannot be reversed
- After a touchdown, the TMO can only review play from the last restart but no further back than two phases
- Incidents for review have to be CLEAR and OBVIOUS (eg knock-on, forward pass, player in touch, offside, obstruction, foul play and double movement.)
- TMOs can NOT review decisions that rely on the referee's judgement (eg side entry at the breakdown, tackler/tackler assist offences, hands in the ruck)