20 Nov 2023

All Black legend says TMOs ruining rugby

4:53 pm on 20 November 2023
Carlos Spencer runs away for that famous try against the Crusaders in 2004. Just before nailing the sideline conversion and giving the Christchurch crowd the 'up yours'.

Carlos Spencer believes the bunker is ruining rugby. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He was one of the most thrilling players to grace the field, but now rugby legend Carlos Spencer worries excitement is going out of the game.

An over-reliance on the Television Match Official has left Spencer feeling disillusioned with the game, a feeling shared by many fans, pundits and players.

World Rugby has come under heavy criticism following the World Cup final which saw a number of interjections from upstairs, in particular a try by Aaron Smith that was ruled out despite TMO Tom Foley overstepping his jurisdiction in doing so.

The tournament itself suffered from a multitude of in-game delays due to constant delegation between the officiating crews.

According to reports, World Rugby has acknowledged errors made in the final, which was won 12-11 by the Springboks and apologised to the All Blacks.

Spencer said the influence of technology was not setting the game up for a bright future.

"It's pretty disappointing when the games come to what it is, and there's obviously been a lot of talks around TMOs, you know, ruining the game. I probably have to agree to be honest."

Spencer led three of the most exciting sides in rugby history - the '96, '97 and '03 Blues.

He won three Super Rugby titles and earned 44 All Black tests.

Known as "The King," Spencer dazzled audiences with his banana kicks, no look flick passes and searing speed.

However, he admitted the game has shifted significantly since his era.

Now coaching Blues Aupiki, Spencer said referees needed to be given as much responsibility as possible.

"If we look at that World Cup final, I just thought the TMO had too much influence on the game. The referee is there for a reason."

A host of prominent rugby icons have spoken out about referees being less empowered having a detriment on the game's flow, including legendary whistle blower Nigel Owens.

"We have got to be mindful of where the game is heading around these TMO's and our referees. I just think the way it's going at the moment is you're not putting their game I suppose in a bright future for the young kids wanting to play the game."

An onfield innovator, Spencer hoped the powers at be could be as bold and help save rugby from the clutches of the bunker.

"We want to make the game as exciting as possible and I think we've lost it over the years."