Television Match Officials (TMOs) might be granted additional powers on a trial basis in this year’s Currie Cup if South African referees' boss Andre Watson is successful in pushing through his current proposal.
If the experiment goes ahead it will be closely monitored by teams and officials in the Northern Hemisphere as the new powers could make their way into the global game in a similar way to the IRB’s approval of ten of the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) trialled in 2008.
Watson believes TMOs should be entrusted with greater responsibility than the current situation which restricts them to adjudicating solely in response to the specific question asked by the match referee.
The issue has fallen under the spotlight after last weekend’s Super Rugby game between the Cheetahs and Bulls, where a try was awarded despite video evidence of a double movement.
Bulls prop Dean Greyling earned his team five points because referee Craig Joubert had asked only if there was any reason not to award the try.
The TMO Johann Meuwesen was not in a position to inform Joubert of Greyling's double movement as to do so would have been to act outside the boundaries currently set for TMO’s under IRB regulations.
"According to protocol from the IRB a referee is not allowed to respond to any additional information from the TMO which doesn't relate to his original question," Watson told Die Burger.
"Johann wanted to give Craig extra information, because it clearly wasn't a try, but both of them would have ended up in hot water.
"The problem started with Craig not spotting Greyling's transgression. In this case the protocol led to the wrong decision being made and Craig has taken full responsibility.
"[The proposed changes] will allow the TMO to point out foul play and to give additional information to prevent a situation like what happened at the weekend.
“If there is, for example, a forward pass which leads to a try 30 metres on, he'll be able to point it out.
“I really hope the Currie Cup is one of the competitions in which the protocol will be tested. A decision will be made next month."