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Rugby - TMO influence abated for end-of-year internationals

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – World Rugby has reined in the power of television match officials (TMO) for the end-of-year internationals in Europe and handed back more control to on-field referees.

The influence of the TMO came under heavy scrutiny during the June tests in the southern hemisphere and the latter stages of the Super Rugby competition.

Coaches, the Sunwolves’ Tony Brown and Queensland Reds’ Brad Thorn in particular, questioned cards given to their players in Super Rugby fixtures after the TMO convinced on-field referees to change their initial assessment of the incident.

Former players working as television analysts also criticised the amount of time taken to make decisions, while they queried the application of the strict letter of the law in certain events.

World Rugby council member John Jeffrey, a former Scotland international, said the decision-making focus would now shift back to on-field referees during the Autumn internationals.

The influence of television officials would also be restricted to checking tries and for foul play. ‘On the run’ conversations between the TMO and three on-field officials would also be removed.

“While we hope that the revised protocol will have a positive impact in terms of time impact on the game and accuracy, as with any trial, we will undertake a full review after the November window before determining whether to proceed,” Jeffrey said in a statement.

All of the southern hemisphere nations head to Europe later this month for their end-of-season tours.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O’Brien)

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