Chiefs supporters had their knives out for the TMO on Saturday night, but were they focusing on the right man? Let’s start by splitting the blame 50-50 between imbecile television match officials and indecisive and dithering referees.
The TMO moniker is starting to more popularly be referred to as TM-Oh no! since Ben Skeen ruled out two Chiefs tries in the dying minutes of their loss to the Sharks in Hamilton on Saturday.
Toby Robson writes for The Dominion Post that the performance of the officials during the latest round of the Super 14 was at least poor, at worst embarrassing and not just because of the events in Hamilton – more on that later.
But believe it or not folks, Skeen got it right twice in ruling out tries to Chiefs captain Liam Messam and back Mike Delany – technically.
The truth is, when Messam was driven over the tryline, referee Bryce Lawrence produced a hospital pass of life-support proportions.
Referees effectively have two choices when they think a try may have been scored.
Option A: Award the try (Lawrence probably wishes he’d ticked A).
Option B: Go to the TMO.
Now listen carefully. After choosing option B the referee can ask his TMO one of two questions.
Both are simple. The first is: Try or no try? The second is: Is there any reason I cannot award the try?
The choice of question can be crucial and proved so with Messam’s non-try.
Lawrence asked the first, indicating he had no idea whether a try had been scored. Skeen then had to find decisive video evidence to prove the ball was grounded and without such a replay had no choice but to rule out the try.
Had Lawrence asked the second question, Skeen would have looked only for an offence such as a knock on, forward pass or foul play and the try would have stood.
Emotions aside, Mike Delany’s elbow hit the chalk simultaneously with the ball being grounded and minutes later Skeen again made the right call.
All of the above would have been avoided if Lawrence had just manned-up and awarded the try in the first place. But that wasn’t the only TMO botchup at the weekend, or during the previous two weeks.
When wing Zac Guildford crashed over in the tackle of Kade Poki at AMI Stadium, referee Stu Dickinson immediately went upstairs. He asked TMO Kane McBride: “Is there any reason I cannot award the try?”
After watching the replay umpteen times McBride awarded a try, ignoring the possible foot in touch or the complete lack of any visual evidence of grounding.
Later that night a bloke called B Bowden, not the cricket ump, awarded Force No 8 Richard Brown a try in Canberra under the same circumstance.
Replays showed no grounding and strongly suggested he had been held up by Brumbies wing Francis Fainifo. Bowden saw it differently.
Reasonable doubt clearly means nothing to these men even after tedious amounts of slow-mo replays.
They should all get MySky. They could spend hours deciphering everything from human emotion to wind direction. If they watched slowly enough, they would see Chiefs coach Ian Foster change colour to an intense shade called “I just aged 10 years in 10 seconds”.
The crux of the matter is referees need to take more responsibility. If they think a try has been scored, they should award it, not go to the TMO by default.
If they are in doubt, they should have just one question, not two: “I didn’t see it, do the replays show a try being scored?”
Unless it is sorted, the public will ask other more searching questions, like: “Did you remember your glasses?” Or perhaps: “Have you taken your medication?”
AW, COME ON REF
Referees can ask the TMO two questions after a try is scored:
Q1: Try or no try? This question is used when the referee is unsure, or unsighted, as to whether a try has been scored. The TMO must then find definitive evidence that a try has been scored.
Q2: Is there any reason I cannot award a try? This is asked when the referee believes a try has been scored. The TMO must then find a reason not to award the try, such as a knock on, player in touch etc.Tweet