TV Officials Are Handed More Power In Rugby's Premiership
The Rugby Football Union has announced that "widening the powers" of rugby's television match official (TMO) and a "more robust system for assessing concussion" will be implemented into this season's English Premiership, according to Tom Bartlett of REUTERS. The TMO trial will allow the on-field referee to be "able to seek advice on incidents that have led to a try being scored at any point from the last stoppage in play and also any foul play that may have been missed." The Premiership will also trial a "Pitch Side Concussion Assessment" system. If the referee or team doctor suspects a player has suffered a concussion, a "five-minute window will be allowed to assess the individual off the field." If a concussion is confirmed, the player "will not be allowed to return to the field, and the temporary substitution will become permanent." The trials will begin on Sept. 1 (REUTERS, 8/20).
MAINTAINING INTEGRITY: The London TELEGRAPH reported that Premiership Rugby Dir Phil Winstanley said, "The TMO trial in live televised games allows us to maintain the integrity of our competition by ensuring that the match officials are given the utmost support in getting crucial decisions right." The concussion protocol was developed by the Int'l Rugby Board working group after "being tasked with enhancing player safety without undermining the fabric of the game." The new system will work in conjunction with the current "blood bin" system, which allows players to be temporarily replaced if they have a cut. RFU Head of Sports Medicine Dr. Simon Kemp said, "Being able to temporarily remove the player from the field will allow medical practitioners to perform a more sophisticated assessment than presently and better decisions to be made" (TELEGRAPH, 8/20).