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World Rugby to explore 'TMO bunker'

NEWS: World Rugby is set to trial a Television Match Official (TMO) Bunker at the Under-20 Championship in South Africa and may adopt the law for the World Cup in France.

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The TMO Bunker has already been trialled in Super Rugby Pacific and World Rugby is eager to explore its potential further.

World Rugby believe that the advanced technology has the potential to assist officiating, reduce lengthy stoppages and promote accurate decision-making for foul play especially involving head contact.

The governing body confirmed that the TMO Bunker concept will operate at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023, hosted in South Africa in June.

If successful, the TMO Bunker could become a permanent fixture and could be utilised at this year’s World Cup in France.

The trial will be based on the following principles:

As is currently the case, clear and obvious red cards for foul play involving contact with the head will receive a red card resulting in the player being permanently removed from the game and unable to be replaced.

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For any incident where a red card is not obvious, a yellow card will be issued and dedicated foul play reviewers in a central bunker review the incident using all available technology and footage.

Once 10 minutes have 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.

Keep in mind the change would not take away referees’ ability to red-card a player. A clear on-field red would remain as such.

Furthermore, unlike Super Rugby Pacific, orange cards and 20-minute red cards will not feature at the U20 Championship, meaning that red-carded players cannot be replaced.

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The U20 Championship returns to South Africa for the first time since 2012. The tournament will get underway on June 24.

The fixtures will be held in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington in the Western Cape.

*Read the full statement below…

World Rugby continues to be open to innovations or technology that have the potential to assist officiating, enhance game flow and advance welfare in line with the key outcomes of the recent Shape of the Game conferences.

The Television Match Official (TMO) Bunker is a concept that reflects that mission, having the potential to reduce lengthy stoppages and promote accurate decision-making for foul play, as evidenced in the current Super Rugby Pacific trial.

While continuing to consult with stakeholders on this topic, World Rugby can confirm that it will operate a TMO Bunker trial at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2023, hosted in South Africa in June to enable further evaluation. The trial will be based on the following principles:

– Clear and obvious red cards for foul play involving contact with the head will receive a red card resulting in the player being permanently being removed from the game and unable to be replaced
– For any incident where a red card is not obvious, a yellow card will be issued and dedicated foul play reviewers in a central bunker review 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

Consideration will be given to furthering the trial in the test arena ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France if the trial is deemed successful and further adoption is supported by the elite rugby stakeholders, including importantly match officials, players, unions and competitions.

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