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Rugby World Cup 2015 – The TMO Scores… September 19, 2015

Posted by Audit Monkey in The State of the British Nation.
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At last, the Rugby World Cup kicked off yesterday (17/09/15) and we can look forward to another six weeks of rugby. After a short opening ceremony at Twickenham, the first game between England and Fuji commenced.

I know the rugby devotees will cry otherwise but the game was a bit of a shocker, despite the England victory. The reason for this was two-fold, the use of the TMO (Television Match Official) and the use of substitutes.

First the use of the TMO. The game was littered by incidents where the referee referred to the TMO to confirm whether a try could be awarded or an infringement had occurred. Ironically, the Fijian try scored by Nikola Matawalu was disallowed as the referee caught sight of the try scoring moment on the big screen in the Stadium only to discover the player had dropped the ball. Of course, the Vision Mixer in the Stadium was not conflicted; I’m sure he wasn’t English….

On the face of it, this has little to auditing but it does have an awful lot to do with risk management and risk appetite. While the use of the TMO is supposed to prevent sporting travesties, the reliance on the TMO is undermining the referees’ own authority and judgement as the referee doesn’t want to be on the hook for an incorrect decision as inevitably there are repercussions. As we saw with the ‘Graham Poll episode’, due to his own failure in not spotting that a player ought to have been sent off, he scuppered his opportunity to adjudicate the World Cup Final in 2006. Alternatively the referee is heavily criticised by an ever vocal press. Hence the referee becomes risk averse when ironically, it is his job to make tough calls. And of course, this behaviour is replicated everyday in business where the need to risk analyse business decisions knows no bounds and the refrain is frequently ‘it should have gone through the risk management process’.

It didn’t help that the TMO took considerable time to forensically analyse each try. I would have thought the TMO would have been watching each try and would be able to an immediate decision but it would appear that the TMO lacks confidence as well due to lengthy deliberations. Of course, rather than remove the TMO and let the referee get on with it, advocates are now recommending that a framework for TMO decisions is implemented, all of which sounds terribly familiar, i.e. the need for a risk based decision process and lengthy analysis.

The other shocker was the use of substitutes. I actually lost count how many England replacements were made; it was approximately 7 to 8. Back in the day, the same 15 started and finished the game. There was no down time for substitutes and the game flowed. Yesterday’s game stop started due to substitutions and England virtually fielded a new team to win the game. While I appreciate Fuji could have used their substitutes, some would argue that was unfair.

Call me old-fashioned, but the whole appeal of Rugby Union was that it wasn’t football. There was no razzmatazz, there were no substitutions, there were no extended half time intervals and no WAGs! The players played the game and referee er referred. Not a lot to ask.

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