Rugby World Cup: What is the TMO?

The television match official will be regularly consulted during the tournament

Sports Staff
Thursday 14 September 2023 20:32 BST
Referee Andrew Brace signals a referral to the TMO
Referee Andrew Brace signals a referral to the TMO (Getty Images)

The television match official (TMO) has been in place in rugby union for more than two decades.

The official is a crucial member of the matchday refereeing team, helping the on-field referee and assistants make decisions.

The TMO has access to all game footage on television screens in front of them, and is usually situated in a truck outside of the ground.

Usually a former or active top-level refereee, they are consulted in certain scenarios during the game: usually an incident of foul play or a potential try-scoring moment.

The TMO can alert the referee to something they may have missed during the game, or be called upon by the on-field official, who indicates as much by drawing a rectangle, or television, shape.

The incident or moment is then put up on the big screen in the ground, allowing the on-field referee to review the footage in consultation with the TMO and their two assistants.

The referee then makes a final call and communicates the decision.

If there is a potential try, the referee will indicate whether they feel it has been scored or not, with their decision only able to be overturned with clear and compelling evidence.

The foul play process, meanwhile, has been revamped ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Where previously the referee and TMO would decide on an appropriate sanction after reviewing footage, this has now been taken out of their hands.

Instead, if an incident clearly meets the yellow card threshold after a quick consultation, the referee and TMO place the incident on review, indicated by a crossing of arms in an “X” shape, and a yellow card is shown to the offending player.

The foul play review officer (FPRO) then has eight minutes to decide whether the card should be upgraded to red or remain a yellow, allowing the player to return from the sin bin after ten minutes.

The overhaul comes out of a desire to speed up the sport, with play able to resume while the FPRO makes their decision.

Who are the TMOs at the 2023 Rugby World Cup?

Brett Cronan (Australia)

Tom Foley (England)

Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Joy Neville (Ireland)

Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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