The head to head - Rich vs Richardson - Big screen replays

The head to head - Rich vs Richardson - Big screen replays

Myself and Andrew Richardson enjoy a good old rugby debate. We've done this as a live event on Twitter, but I believe it's the first time on the blog.

James Haskell released an article this week blaming big screen slow motion replays for his yellow card against Ireland, whereas I don't agree with that at all, in fact, I called the yellow card in real time and feel the tackle was both high and late, the article brought up some valid points.

You can read the article here.


First up, every collision looks worse in slow motion, that's a fact, and it infuriates me when refs ask the TMO to show things in slow motion. You miss the small intricacies like a player attempting to dodge, or a slip that makes the impact worse. But that's slightly off topic.

The big screen replay often makes a situation far worse, as it brings outside factors into the equation, such as crowd emotion and reaction, especially when it's a TMO review involving an away sides offense, it's very difficult for the man in the middle if he see's a replay at full speed, he may not see anything in it, but a partisan home crowd may boo the bejaysus out of it, which may influence the ref to watch one of the close ups, or slow motion replays that make the incident look far worse!

One of the suggested solutions is to have the referee have a private booth to watch the replay free of crowd reaction and thus the decision is 100% unquestionably their own. This idea, I like, combined with a suggestion I received on Twitter, where the ref mic is relayed into the PA system to explain the decision. Ref Link headset's are already available for international matches so this is only one further step on from that. I wouldn't like to see the NFL pomp and circumstance that surrounds giving the decision, but it would be nice to hear the clarification for why a decision is, or isn't allowed.

There were occasions in the pre World Cup friendlies and in the tournament that the referee reviewed try decisions only after seeing the big screen replays, this again is something I disagree with strongly, you must allow for human error, or we should do away with the ref entirely and rule the game using only computers and TMO. Benefit off the doubt is something that the referee must be allowed in his arsenal.

To clarify my opinion.... When I first read the article, I agreed with it wholly, but with a bit of time to think, I'm more 50/50 in my agreement. There are changes that should be made, video's should, only be shown to stadium after they've been reviewed and the decision explained. 

But Andrew thinks differently!


So in recent history James “The muscle from Windsor” Haskell has been yellow carded for a Swinging arm against Ireland. Now whilst I don’t agree that it was a yellow card the TMO watched it over and over and over again in very slow motion. We all know that incidents like this look worse in slow motion. The Irish Crowd immediately wanted blood whilst some of the English Majority may have winced and rightly worried.


So to today. James has unofficially called for a ban on replays on the big screen. He argues that the yellow card was only given as it looked much worse 80 ft up on a 25ft display and 80 thousand people all ‘ooooohhhhhhing’ at the same time. He may have a point, in the same interview with the guardian he admits to tripping a Frenchman and although the Ref didn’t see it, it was replayed over and over again.


“When I tripped an opponent against France the ref hadn’t seen it but they played it a million times and the crowd went mental. Maybe we need to call the bloke operating it in for a coffee and tell him to get his finger off the button!”


No James. How about you stop getting yourself into these situations where the TMO may call back the Ref to an incident. If Roman Poite is not strong enough to stand by a decision or lets himself get swayed by the crowd then that is a separate issue. You cannot consistently link our game to that of the NFL. Our sport has evolved and is evolving. This technology is not there to attack one player, it’s to save others. The Big Screen in Cardiff last year saw George North get concussed twice in one game! This led to immediate procedures being put in for the Welsh Unions Medical team. They claim to have missed it! The Millennium (as it was then) crowd did not.


In essence, I don’t agree with the yellow, I agree even less with the removal of replays to the crowd. I will not have that a professional player be it English, Welsh, Irish etc go out of their way to deliberately injure anyone. Hit them hard, hit them back, rattle the 10 absolutely. But never to injure. We are not watching Sunday morning Rugby we are watching the best players from each participating country. If you cannot play at Twickenham, Principality, Aviva, BT Murrayfield, Stade Francais or Stadio Olimpico there are plenty of fresh faced guys and girls coming through who want your shirt. Poite made a decision. It’s time to move on and look to the Welsh!



To summarise, I'm against the replays, but I agree with the yellow, ironically, Andrew is for the replays, but disagree's about the yellow!

I asked my Twitter followers for their opinions on the matter. Here are some of the responses I got.

 Mar 8

I get that; but (as always) TMO is a pro; they sit apart in a van. Slow mo has it's use for 99% of decisions.

 Mar 7

if there is a way for only the ref to see the replays, this would work. No need for 80,000 to see when the ref is in charge.

 Mar 7

maybe not taken off, but shouldn't be allowed to be slowed down as it always makes it look bad/worse

 Mar 8

a good referee should ask TMO to replay in real time

 Mar 8

take them off the big screens and fans in the ground second class citizens. Need to put ref mic into sound system

 Mar 8

That would be worse! At least with them on the screen the Ref can see them & there is half a chance fans will be educated.

 Mar 8

I think they're fine within reason, but refs seem incapable of making a decision on anything without TMO now. It spoils the flow.

 Mar 8

no, but ref should be the one who decides on the evidence presented to him, not TMO

 Mar 8

Don't think any replays should be shown on big screen. How many times have crowd reacted causing ref to look at nothing. However...the system needs improvement to be used correctly & consistently. Getting the TMO to check without stopping play is a start


The final say can be given to the voters in the poll I put up....

Should TMO replays be taken off big screens?


Yes - 35%

No - 65%


444 votes