While the powers-that-be tinker with the scrums mid-season they could also look at TMOs, writes Ball-Handling Hooker
One sporting story that happened to cross the threshold from one sport to another last year was the Luis Suarez biting incident. On 21st April 2013, Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic. The incident was seen by millions around the world on replays within seconds. Suarez was later banned as the disciplinary commission regarded it as more than a red card offense. However, the officials at the game missed the incident, and Suarez stayed on the pitch, later scoring a late equaliser.
This is what the extended powers for the TMO in rugby are trying to address. If an act of foul play has been committed against a team, surely they should get most of the rewards for it (playing against one less man for a period of time) instead of the beneficiaries being the oppositions following opponents when a player is retrospectively banned. In short, the idea behind a TMO looking at foul play is brilliant and I'm all for it; but not in it's current form.
Rugby has become a lot more stop start in it's nature this season, with the primary cause being referees who are becoming too scared to make a call themselves without checking with the TMO. The game is drifting towards the pedestrian pace of American Football, and while that's exciting, a free flowing rugby game is what the audience has come to see.
One feature of the foul play TMO checking that has irritated me most is when the TMO themselves intervene to stop play, and then spend several minutes checking the footage to conclude that nothing happened. If the TMO thinks they have seen something, why not check it BEFORE they tell the referee to stop play and have the right angle ready for the referee should they wish to view it? So instead of taking several minutes to potentially look at something, it takes 30 seconds to view something definitely worth checking.
This could be extended so that the referee tells the TMO to check something while the play continues, just like the referee notices a touch judges flag and plays on, before going back to check.
Referee's are only human, and any way that helps them, like the use of a video referee should be encouraged, but not when it takes away from the spectacle.