The IRB have given the South African Rugby Union (SARU) permission to trial the extension of the television match official's powers in this year's Currie Cup.
The trials will, amongst other things, allow referees to consult television match officials about incidents of foul play or infringements such as knock-ons and forward passes that might have occurred anywhere on the field in the build-up to a try being scored.
"The IRB recently gave SARU dispensation to trial the extension of the TMO Protocol and we are very excited to try them out," said SARU referees boss André Watson.
"Referrals can now go back to the previous restart, i.e. penalty kick, free kick, lineout, scrum, kick-off, but not further back than two rucks or mauls. That means numerous tackles may occur."
Watson said the trials would also allow on-field match officials to use stadium screens to decide on matters, while TMOs would have the power to inform referees of "incidents and issues" over and above those usually requested when trying to determine whether or not a try had been scored.
The full TMO trials are as follows:
TMO may be referred to as per the current application as well as:
1. When match officials are unsure whether foul play has occurred anywhere on the field or in-goal.
2. When match officials believe there may have been an infringement by the team that scored a try or touched down.
3. When match officials believe a try or touch-down was prevented by an infringement.
4. To confirm the success or otherwise of kicks at goal.
Infringements listed by the IRB include knock-ons, forward passes, player in touch, off-sides, obstructions, tackling a player without the ball, foul play and double movement in act of scoring.
How does TMO adjudicate?
• Only on the clear and obvious - there must be no doubt
• If it is not clear, the TMO is to advise it did not happen or there is no clear evidence it happened.
• TMO to advise on the infringement, the recommended sanction and where play is to restart.
TMOs can be advised on infringements by the team that scored or touched down, as well as if a try has been prevented from being scored:
• Penalty tries may be recommended
• If there is doubt as to whether the try would have been scored the TMO must then advise the appropriate sanction.
If foul play is referred, the TMO is to make recommendations as to the appropriate sanctions.