Bravo to Super Rugby for finally allowing fans in the stadium to hear the TMO

The supporters at Eden Park could eavesdrop on the chat between the referee and his TMO.

RETURNING OUT-HALF Aaron Cruden guided the Chiefs to a 37-29 comeback victory over the Blues in a highly-entertaining opening game of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Overturning a 19-5 half-time deficit, Warren Gatland’s Chiefs played some spectacular rugby, while this clash at Eden Park was also notable for the involvement of the television match official [TMO].

Referee Angus Gardner went to the TMO for three different tries during the game and in a highly welcome development, the supporters inside Eden Park were able to hear the exchanges over the stadium tannoy system.

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It’s a smart move from Super Rugby, the Blues, and Sky Sport NZ – the broadcasters of this match – with the competition desperate to get fans back into the stadiums.

It has long been a frustration for supporters who attend games in person not to be able to hear the dialogue between referees and their TMOs, given the sheer importance of their interactions.

Often, fans in the stadium are bemused as to what the match officials are reviewing, as well as their final decisions.

In Eden Park today, though, the paying supporters had clarity around what was being studied by the TMO during the reviews. 

While this development certainly won’t eradicate disagreement with the actual decision the referee and TMO reach – Blues fans will be frustrated with Aaron Cruden’s offload before Solomon Alaimalo’s try not being adjudicated as forward – at least there is an awareness of what’s going on.

Making the effort to attend rugby matches shouldn’t leave fans disadvantaged compared to those watching at home on TV, meaning the addition of the broadcast of these TMO exchanges was very positive.

Rugby league has been doing this for some time now, allowing fans to hear what’s being said as potential tries are reviewed, and it seems likely that rugby union fans would welcome the move in other stadiums and competitions too.

AG Referee Angus Gardner could be heard in the stadium as he spoke to his TMO, Aaron Paterson.

How long before fans in venues for Six Nations and World Cup fixtures get to hear what’s being said? Bravo to the Blues, Sky Sport, and Super Rugby for bringing it to a wider audience today.

In his first game back in New Zealand rugby, Gatland’s Chiefs had two of their tries referred to the TMO during their thrilling turnaround victory, which was hugely aided by the former Wales boss sending on 31-year-old Cruden at half-time.

Two tries from All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane had helped the Blues into their 19-5 lead at the break, but the Chiefs reeled them back to 19-19 within 11 minutes of the second half getting underway.

Though the Blues did nudge back in front briefly, the Chiefs finished strongly with Cruden in superb form and flanker Lachlan Boshier dominating the breakdown. 

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