Clarification on the role of the TMO at Rugby World Cup 2015

The Television Match Officials are tasked with promoting accurate and consistent decision-making during the tournament

GOING UPSTAIRS: Craig Joubert refers a decision to the TMO during the France-Italy match on Saturday


Television Match Officials' role at Rugby World Cup 2015


  •  Promotes accurate and consistent decision-making
  •  Can only be used in certain circumstances
  •  Just 28 per cent of all stoppage time in the opening match was due to TMO

The objective of the television match official (TMO) system is to ensure accurate and consistent decisions are made on the field in a timely and efficient manner. The TMO is a tool to help referees and assistant referees with their on-field calls and the referee remains the decision-maker who is in charge of the process.
The TMO can be used only in the following circumstances:

  •  Determining the grounding of the ball in-goal for a try or touchdown and/or whether players were in touch or touch in goal before grounding
  •  Determining whether a kick at goal has been successful
  •  Confirm if an infringement has occurred in the build-up to a try or prevention of a try (infringement must be within two phases of the try or  touchdown)
  •  Considering acts of possible foul play

As has always been the case with assistant referees flagging for foul play, touch or touch in goal, the referee may consult with the TMO and then disallow a previously awarded try but only up to the point that the conversion is taken.
For the first time at a Rugby World Cup, TMOs have use of Hawk-Eye video replay technology allowing them to view multiple angles synchronised in real-time to improve the quality of decision-making yet further. Citing commissioners also have the benefit of the Hawk-Eye technology.
As a player welfare measure, this technology is also used by the match day medical teams on the side-line and in the medical rooms to aid in their decision-making regarding injuries, particularly head knocks and potential concussions.
Chairman of the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee John Jeffrey said: “The TMO is a part of the match official team and the fantastic technology available is a tool to be used in the making of key decisions during matches. The TMO process is used to make sure the correct calls are made to protect the integrity of the game.
“It’s worth noting that just 28 per cent of stoppage time in the opening match of this Rugby World Cup was taken up by the TMO process but we are committed to reducing that time further while not compromising on accuracy. As such, all involved – referees, TMOs, technicians and television producers – are working together to achieve that.”