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Aviva Premiership to start TMO trial

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Premiership Rugby will start a ground-breaking experiment this weekend, at the Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs fixture, that could lead to every match in the Aviva Premiership being covered by a Television Match Official (TMO) next season.

Currently only rugby matches that are screened live on television have a TMO in operation but in the pursuit of excellence the Aviva Premiership is hoping to extend the system to all games.

“At our last Board meeting the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs agreed to make a considerable financial investment to conduct this experiment that will see additional cameras and a TMO installed at four non-live matches this season,” said Phil Winstanley, the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby.

“The integrity of the Aviva Premiership is crucial to our clubs and this increases the chances of the match officials getting more decisions right.

“The money invested shows our clubs will stop at nothing to make the Aviva Premiership the most professional league in the world.

“Currently, for all non-live games we have a four-camera system which produces what we need in terms of broadcast content (this footage is used for the ITV highlights shows and Premiership Rugby TV) and from a match analysis perspective but it doesn’t give us the best possible option of capturing potential try scoring decisions which would aid a TMO in supporting the match officials.

“We will be trailing a six-camera solution at Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs and at three additional games this season to ensure a robust test of the new system. This system would still allow for broadcast and match analysis provision but would also provide four fixed camera angles in the corner of the ground which could be utilised by a TMO. We could have conducted the trial and reviewed the evidence as part of a trial before introducing the TMO. However, we see no reason why we shouldn’t utilise the TMO if the additional angles are available as the most important thing is to give the match officials the maximum support to get the decision right.

“The cost of this for all our non-live games during a season is likely to be in the region of £350,000. Whether or not this investment will be committed to for next season has yet to be considered by the Premiership Rugby Board.

“The trial will actually be conducted to enable the comparisons to be made between the two systems. This incorporates four camera positions as currently used and an additional four camera positions as is proposed for the future. Two camera positions remain constant with both systems. The camera angles for both systems will be analysed following each game and a paper has been requested for the 15th May Board identifying the benefits or issues that both systems raise.”

The trial will be conducted at the following four games:

Round 18
Saturday 24 March 15.00 Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs

Round 19
Friday 30 March 20.00 Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks

Round 21
Saturday 21 April 14.15 Bath Rugby v London Wasps
Saturday 21 April 15.00 Worcester Warriors v London Irish