New TMO bunker system could be trialled in Test matches before Rugby World Cup
A so-called television match official bunker system to review contentious on-field incidents could be trialled at Test level before the Rugby World Cup in France later this year.
This season’s ongoing Super Rugby Pacific tournament is trialling the innovation, and that will now extend to the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in South Africa this summer, World Rugby said.
World Rugby added that consideration will be given to furthering the trial in the Test arena ahead of the World Cup “if the trial is deemed successful and further adoption is supported by the elite rugby stakeholders, including importantly match officials, players, unions and competitions”.
Clear and obvious red cards for foul play, including contact with the head, will receive a red card from the match referee resulting in the player being permanently removed from the game and unable to be replaced.
But for any incident where a red card is not obvious, a yellow card will be issued with the player being sent to the sin-bin while dedicated foul play reviewers in a central bunker look at the incident using all available technology and footage.
Once 10 minutes has elapsed, the yellow card is either upheld and the player returns to the action, or it is upgraded and the player permanently leaves the field, unable to be replaced.
The idea of the initiative is to speed up the game by reducing the number of on-field replays of incidents, while also dealing with contentious decisions, such as the dismissal of England full-back Freddie Steward against Ireland during this season’s Guinness Six Nations.
Steward was controversially sent off for a dangerous challenge on Hugo Keenan during the March 18 encounter in Dublin, but the card was subsequently rescinded by a disciplinary panel.
And England international number eight Zach Mercer experienced an identical disciplinary outcome after he was red-carded for a dangerous tackle during Montpellier’s Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 defeat at Exeter earlier this month.
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