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24th Jul 2023

Massive red card change to be introduced for Summer Nations Series

Patrick McCarry

Six Nations

The rugby times are a changin’

Several changes are being brought in for the upcoming World Cup warm-up games, with one eye on next year’s Six Nations.

The matches, which make up the Summer Nations Series, include a new Television Match Official ‘Bunker review process’, as well as Hawk-eye and a shot-clock [for conversions and penalties]. The idea behind the innovations is ‘to support referees and match officials in their decision making and encourage speed of game play’.

The idea behind the TMO bunker is that referees will still be the main decision-maker but have the option to refer any foul play incident, to a dedicated ‘Foul Play Review Officer’ (FPRO) situated within the bunker, where a red card is not clear and obvious. A release from Six Nations Rugby explains:

‘If after two video replays the in-play officiating team is unable to determine whether an incident warrants a red card then the referee will refer the incident to the Bunker, and the player will leave the field of play for 10 minutes. The FPRO will then have up to 8 minutes to review the incident using all available technology and footage, to determine the outcome.

‘The FPRO will then communicate the decision to the in-play officiating team and the referee will either award the player a yellow card (and the player returns to the action following their 10-minute sin bin), or the referee will award a red card and the player stays off the field permanently, unable to be replaced.

‘Match officials will also benefit from Hawk-Eye technology, that will act as the independent video replay operator, to support referees and enhances accuracy of decision making.’

Six Nations
James Lowe of Ireland dives in for their second try against France during a 2023 Six Nations match. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

More changes being introduced by Six Nations Rugby

The TMO bunker and red card reviews will not be part of the upcoming World Cup, it has been confirmed by World Rugby.

There will be further changes for the Summer Nations Series, which includes Ireland three Tests against Italy, England and Samoa. Per the Six Nations Rugby release:

‘For fans in the stadiums and watching at home, Shot Clock, Ref Cam and Smart Ball match data, presented by Sage, stand to enhance their match day experience. The reintroduction of Ref Cam is a fan focussed decision, and through the latest technology and equipment, aims to offer broadcasters access to new angles and perspectives from the live games, that can bring fans even closer to the action.

‘Following a successful trial during this year’s Guinness Six Nations, Shot Clock will be a feature of the Summer Nations Series, giving players 90 seconds to take a conversion, and 60 seconds to take a penalty kick, with the time counting down on screen in stadia and highlighted via broadcast coverage. The application of a Shot Clock is intended to provide players with accurate information, whilst adding to the experience fans can look forward to throughout the games.’

Director of Rugby at Six Nations Rugby, Julie Paterson said, “Bringing the latest technology, processes and rugby focussed innovations into Six Nations Rugby competitions is a core part of helping drive the collective growth of the game.

“The likes of the Bunker Trial and Hawk-Eye will offer even more support to match officials and the decisions they make in the heat of a live match environment.”

The Summer Nations Series starts on July 29, when Scotland host Italy in Edinburgh, and runs until August 27, when France welcome Australia to the Stade de France.

In the UK, Prime Video will show all fifteen games, RTE will show all Ireland games and Premier Sports will bring all other games to viewers in Ireland. 

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