The advice of the television match official at the Tri-Nations match between South Africa and New Zealand on Saturday has evoked some questioning.
Article Courtesy of Rugby365.
Israel Dagg of New Zealand broke in spectacular fashion near the half-way line and headed for the South African line. About two metres from the goal-line François Hougaard of South Africa brought Dagg to ground. Brought to ground, Dagg passed to Jimmy Cowan who went over in Bryan Habana’s tackle.
The referee then consulted the television match official, saying: “Johan, is this a try – yes or no?”
The TMO looked at the incident in slow motion and reported to the referee: “There is no problem with the grounding. Do you require any information before the goal-line?”
The referee said: “Yes.”
The TMO said: “It was a forward pass.”
The referee signalled that a try had not been scored and awarded a five-metre scrum to South Africa.
Later, unofficially, there were queries about all of this. Was such a decision within the TMO’s jurisdiction.
The International Rugby Board has a protocol for how the TMO may or may not be used. The protocol states:
The areas of adjudication are limited to Law 6. 8 (b), 6.8 (d) and 6.8 (e) and therefore relate to:
Grounding of the ball for try and touch down
Touch, touch-in-goal, ball being made dead during the act of grounding the ball.
This includes situations where a player may or may not have stepped in touch in the act of grounding the ball on or over the goal line.
The TMO could therefore be requested to assist the referee in making the following decisions:
Try No try and scrum awarded 5 metres
Touch down by a defender In touch – line-out
Touch-in-goal Ball dead on or over the dead ball line Penalty tries after acts of foul play in in-goal All kicks at goal including dropped goals.
The TMO must not be requested to provide information on players prior to the ball going into in-goal (except touch in the act of grounding the ball). The TMO must not be asked to assist in any other decision other than those listed. The referee must make an effort to make an adjudication. If he is unsighted or has doubt, he will then use the following process (4).
It is clear from the protocol that in this case the TMO was acting out of protocol – and yet the just result was obtained.
The pass was forward and for a forward pass a scrum is awarded, which is what happened.
If you watch the action, the referee and his assistant are left about 20 metres behind Dagg as he raced for the line. In fact all the players were left well behind Dagg except for Hougaard. That they were left behind is not surprising, for Dagg sped away.
From their position it was not possible for the referee or his assistant to judge the validity of a short pass. But the TMO could do so. It seems eminently sensible and fair to consult the TMO. It is not taking matters way back but is close to the line and part of the act of scoring – as a foot in touch would be.
Interestingly, the New Zealand coach, Graham Henry had no problem with the decision, saying in his dry way: “If it was a forward pass, it shouldn’t have been a try. If the officials can make good decisions on the evidence they have got, why not? I know it’s outside the laws of the game – they should only adjudicate over the goal line. But I haven’t got a problem with it.
“That was the reality – it wasn’t awarded. I don’t know if it was a forward pass or not. I asked Israel Dagg after the game and he reckoned it was 50-50. If we were on the receiving end and South Africa were disallowed a try because it was a forward pass, we would be happy about that.”
André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss, supported the decision. He said: “What we want is the right decision. It was clear that the pass was forward and if the try had been allowed we [referees] would have looked a bunch of fools.
“Protocols are important and we should try to stick to them but they are essentially guidelines and I’d rather apologise for what happened than get the wrong answer.”
The protocol is not a part of the Laws of the Game, just a regulation of a process of applying the laws.
Article Courtesy of Rugby365.Tweet