The following is based on a discussion we had on Sharksworld a couple of days ago about an incident in the Bulls v. Cheetahs game and a try being scored by the Bulls which was questioned.
This is really for Ice who had the question but I believe a lot of you will find this interesting too.
The incident occurred in the Bulls v. Cheetahs match recently where Dewald Potgieter scored a try following a charge down in the Cheetahs 22 meter area.
I managed to see the match and the incident subsequent to our original discussion and here is the incident, and the correct ruling on the matter.
JL Potgieter receives the ball and attempts a clearance kick in his 22 meter area. Both Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann charges at Potgieter and the ball is charged down.
The ball ends up in the in-goal area of the Cheetahs where Stegmann first tries and score the try by diving on the ball and eventually Potgieter scoring what looked like a legitimate try.
However, at the point of the ball being charged down, Stegmann was in front of Potgieter who was the player who actually charged the ball down.
Stegmann, in front of Potgieter at the time of the charge down continued to move forward to the ball and got to it first. He also ‘handled’ the ball (touched it) but it seemed to have gone backwards from him, where Dewald Potgieter following up on his charge down has a simple job of applying pressure on the ball in the in-goal area.
After consultation with the TMO (it was referred), the try is awarded.
Technically the try should not have been awarded, instead, the Cheetahs should have received a penalty in line with where the try was scored, on their own 5 meter line.
The main problem is Stegmann being in front of Potgieter when he charges the ball down, this puts him off-side. Since he continued to move forward and was the first player to play the ball after the charge down (never being put on-side by Dewald) he played it in the in-goal area from an off-side position. Result: Penalty Cheetahs.
However, the referee did not see, or could not judge the player to be in front.
He referred it to the TMO which now begs the question that if it was clearly visible on video evidence, why the TMO did not call it to the ref but instead awarded a try?
Well quite simply, he is not allowed to.
IRB protocol states that the TMO can only advise the referee on incidents within the in-goal area or the action in scoring the actual try, including incidents in which the defenders illegally prevent a try from being scored, i.e. whether the player had a foot in touch or touch in-goal.
The TMO was therefore only limited to judge the merits of the try once the ball moved into the in-goal area (the charge down happened 15 meters out and is the referee’s responsibility to adjudicate) and when it did, Stegmann knocked it back and Potgieter successfully grounded the ball for a ‘legal’ try to be awarded.
The referee decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bulls player being on-side (from his view).
So the conclusion, it should not have been a try but a penalty to the Cheetahs instead, but because of the limitations placed on TMO’s in the game currently, it can only be attributed to the referee being unable to see that Stegmann was in front of Dewald Potgieter.
So this was simply a mistake from the referee.Tweet