‘I think we’ve lost it’ – Carlos Spencer worried about rugby as a spectacle

Dylan Coetzee
Former All Black Carlos Spencer in 2003.

Former All Black Carlos Spencer in 2003.

Former All Black Carlos Spencer is concerned that the heightened involvement of the Television Match Official (TMO) is threatening the appeal of the game.

The use of the TMO has come under heavy fire following the 2023 Rugby World Cup where the technology was used often to influence games throughout the tournament.

The introduction of the bunker system, where a yellow card can go under review during the first eight minutes of the sin-binning, has also been under the microscope, with some believing it takes the power away from the referee.

Too much technology?

Spencer feels that TMOs are “ruining the game” and cited the final as an example where an Aaron Smith try was ruled out with World Rugby reportedly privately admitting the decision was wrong after the clash.

“It’s pretty disappointing when the game’s come to what it is, and there’s obviously been a lot of talks around TMOs, you know, ruining the game. I probably have to agree, to be honest,” Spencer told RNZ.

“If we look at that World Cup final, I just thought the TMO had too much influence on the game. The referee is there for a reason.”

Is the game exciting enough?

The former playmaker’s concerns follow a number of high-profile figures, including legendary former referee Nigel Owens, who called for changes to be made in the game.

Spencer, who was renowned for his audacious and exciting rugby, is worried that the game is not appealing enough for young people to get involved.

“We have got to be mindful of where the game is heading around these TMOs and our referees,” he said.

“I just think the way it’s going at the moment is you’re not putting their game, I suppose, in a bright future for the young kids wanting to play the game.

“We want to make the game as exciting as possible and I think we’ve lost it over the years.”

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