Rugby World Cup 2023: what is the foul play review bunker? How it works at tournament in France

Foul Play Review bunker has been introduced at the Rugby World Cup

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The Rugby World Cup has kicked-off and the first weekend had plenty of talking points.

France's strong showing against the All Blacks on the opening nights set the tone for the weekend. England, Wales and Australia overcame poor warm-up campaigns to start the tournament with wins.

Japan faced a tricky test against tournament newcomers Chile - and Scotland were overpowered by the Springboks in one of the most anticipated games of the weekend. However, refereeing decisions proved to be among the big talking points from the first round.

For many fans, the Rugby World Cup will have been the first time they have seen the foul play review bunker in action. It was particularly prominent during England's win over Argentina in which Tom Curry's yellow card was upgraded to a red.

But what exactly is it - and how does it work?

What is the bunker at Rugby World Cup?

The foul play review bunker has been introduced for the tournament after successful trails in Super Rugby Pacific, the Rugby Championship, the U20 World Championship and the Summer Nations Series. It is aimed at speeding up the flow of the game and allow match officials to make shift decisions.

Mathieu Raynal sends an incident of foul play to the bunker. Picture: David Rogers/Getty ImagesMathieu Raynal sends an incident of foul play to the bunker. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images
Mathieu Raynal sends an incident of foul play to the bunker. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images

It is an additional TMO at a location away from the match grounds - who will review incidents of serious foul play at the request of the onfield match decision.

How does the foul play review bunker work?

If the referee and TMO decide that an incident meets the threashold for a bunker review - for example in the case of a dangerous tackle with head contact - the officials can show the player a yellow card and send it for review. The referee will signal this by crossing their arms after brandeshing the yellow card.

On the TV scoreboard, the card will appear as half yellow/ half red, until the conclusion of the review. The bunker will then have up to eight minutes to decide if the yellow card was the right decision or if it is serious enough to warrant being upgraded to a red card.

If the card is upgraded to a red, the referee will stop the game and announce the decision before then showing the player a red card.

Who is in the foul play bunker?

There are two officials in the bunker.

Are all incidents reviewed by foul play bunker?

A decision will only be sent to the bunker if the referee and TMO agre that the incident of foul play has reached the threshold for review. The bunker will only look at incidents that have been referred.

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