World Rugby take next step in introducing 'TMO bunker'

World Rugby is set to further trial the Television Match Official (TMO) Bunker – a new innovation in officiating – at the 2023 World Rugby U20 World Championship.

World Rugby believe the technology has the potential to revolutionize the game, reducing lengthy stoppages and promoting accurate decision-making for foul play involving head contact.

The TMO Bunker has already been trialled in Super Rugby Pacific, and World Rugby is keen to explore its potential further. The organization has been seeking out innovations that can enhance game flow and improve player welfare, and the TMO Bunker promises to do just that.

The trial will be based on a set of principles designed to ensure that the technology is implemented in a way that benefits the game as a whole. World Rugby will be consulting with stakeholders throughout the process to ensure that the trial is as successful as possible.

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.

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.

The TMO Bunker is part of World Rugby’s bid to further incorporate technology that can assist officiating, enhance game flow, and advance player welfare. Some critics have questioned the pace of the game and refereeing decisions, and the TMO Bunker promises to address these issues head-on.

The trial at the 2023 World Rugby U20 World Championship will be closely watched by fans and players alike, as the rugby community eagerly anticipates the results. If successful, the TMO Bunker could become a permanent fixture of the sport, transforming the way the game is played and officiated.

“I think it’s a good idea,” England fullback Freddie Steward told MailOnline. Steward received a controversial red card for a collision with Ireland’s Hugo Keenan during the Six Nations and the TMO bunker concept will allow TMOs more time to come to the correct decisions on crunch calls like Steward’s.

“When something like that happens it can take the sting out of the game with the TMO and the referee involved,” said Steward. “I think it’s a good idea to leave that to other officials to review while the game can continue. I think it’s brilliant.”