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George Ayoub has been a regular name on the World Rugby and Super Rugby appointments for many years. This year is no exception with George being appointed as the TMO for all three British and Irish Lions tests against the All Blacks. He will be right in the thick of things in what is expected to be one of the most exciting Lions series in history.
George took up the TMO role in 2008 after refereeing 3 Tests and 17 Super Rugby fixtures between 2000 and 2007. He was one of four TMO’s used at the Rugby World Cup in 2015 in England.
"The TMO role for me was a natural progression after retiring from on field duties. After completing my refereeing in Japan I wanted to still be involved as a match official contributing in a positive way to the game and this role has allowed me to work with match officials from across the globe."
In that time the role of the TMO has changed dramatically. As technology has developed so too have the requirements on the TMO.
"The role of TMO in the game today is very different to that when TMO was first introduced. I see my role as a ‘sweeper’ checking behind the scene and assisting the on field officials with decisions that otherwise may be missed. We are not there to be the referee but the extra set of eyes that can make a difference."
"To say I was speechless on being appointed to all three Lions test matches would be an understatement. I was honestly hoping to be involved in some capacity and so when I received the phone call it was a humbling experience. I am very grateful that the selectors considered me for this series and I know that the team of 4 will work hard to make a positive contribution to the matches. I was also thrilled to see that Angus Gardner and Ian Smith had been appointed to the series, which is an indication that Australian match officials are regarded so highly."
World Rugby held a camp in Sydney in early May where all elite panel referees and TMOs involved in the Lions Series met to run through trends in the game and prepare for the series. Over three days TMOs and referees worked through scenarios and footage to ensure better alignment coming into the Test window.
"It was a great opportunity to work with the team I will be with for the Lions series. Each referee brings a different personality to the game and the way they officiate and interact, but all are experienced and highly regarded. It also helps greatly that we are all good friends, which has been forged over the past few years. While simulating match day scenarios using video clips is a good way of preparing for the series, nothing beats a live match to raise the heart rate when making a call. The camp did allow us to consolidate teamwork, fine tune communication and begin the mental preparation for what will be a demanding period."
George will be working with Gerome Garces (France), Romain Poite (France) and Jaco Peyper (South Africa) who control each of the three tests to be held in June and July.