‘Takes the pressure off’ – Ex-England international weighs in on polarising TMO bunker

Colin Newboult
Jaco Peyper makes signal for bunker review during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Jaco Peyper makes signal for bunker review during the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Former England and Lions speedster Ugo Monye believes that the bunker system implemented at the Rugby World Cup was a ‘success’ and would like to see it in the Premiership.

It is designed to both speed up the game and take the pressure off the referees, but critics say that on-field officials should be making these match-defining calls.

Under the system, a player who has committed an act of foul play, which has reached the yellow card threshold, is sent to the sin-bin.

While that person is off the field, an independent official will review the incident and decide whether it should be upgraded to a red.

Mixed response

It has its supporters while its detractors have been vocal following the World Cup, including former Test referee Nigel Owens, but Monye is in the former category.

Asked whether he would like to see it in the Premiership, the ex-Red Rose wing told TNT Sports: “Yes, 100%. I thought it worked really well at the World Cup.

“It was swift; we didn’t have replay after replay up on the screen. It was down to where people got to focus on the rugby, and we got to make right decisions.

“It takes the pressure off the referees, so it allows whatever man or woman who’s away from the pressure of an in-game match to sit and properly look at all the different angles to come to the right decision.

“I liked it; I thought it was a success.”

Video technology has its critics and there has been much consternation in the oval ball game over how VAR is implemented.

Monye believes that rugby is well ahead of football, however, in terms of the use of technology in the sport.

“Light years ahead”

“You can’t speak about officiating and TMO without making comparisons to what we see in other sports, namely football and VAR,” he added.

“Comparatively, we’re light years ahead and we should be because we’ve embedded our refereeing and TMO protocols for a significant period of time. And so all of these things are relative, aren’t they?

“Of course, there’s scrutiny over things because people are passionate, and they want everything to be gotten right. Comparatively, I think we should be reasonably pleased with where we are at as a game.

“Communication, we get to hear the conversation between referees and TMOs. I don’t think it takes lengthy periods to get the right decisions. We saw the introduction of the bunker so things happen more speedily, so we got to focus on the game. And the majority of the time we got the right answer.

“All I would say is that the conversation around officials and refs is out of kilter with the conversation we have around players and coaches, because we accept that players make mistakes, whilst not accepting that referees make mistakes.

“I think we need to just get greater balance over that. And whilst, you know, once it goes through TMO review, we have more time, therefore we expect less mistakes, we’re still dealing with humans and humans have error. So we should just accept it so long as it’s not frequent, and hopefully not game-defining.”

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