World Rugby made a monumental error by retrospectively saying that there was a Television Match Official (TMO) mistake in the Six Nations clash between England and Wales.
England comprehensively won the game 12-6 but in the 23rd minute with the score 12-0, Wales thought they scored a try when Gareth Anscombe appeared to beat Anthony Watson to the ball beyond the tryline. It was close, and TMO was summoned.
It was hard to judge who touched the ball down first and TMO official Glenn Newman swiftly concluded that Watson had beaten the Wales full-back to the ball. On microscopic inspection, he was wrong.
Who said what?
Rob Howley, Wales Assistant Coach: “Alain Rolland (World Rugby head of referees) confirmed on behalf of World Rugby that it was a mistake. It was good to have dialogue with World Rugby – they confirmed the TMO mistake. It’s happened, it’s disappointing that happens in professional sport.”
Warren Gatland, Wales Head Coach: “To me it’s disappointing that they get the decision wrong and in such a pivotal moment of the game. They fly a guy over from New Zealand to be TMO and he has one big call to make and unfortunately I think he’s made a terrible mistake and at this level I think that’s pretty disappointing.”
Eddie Jones, England Head Coach: “I’m on a good behaviour bond so I’ve got to be careful what I say, but I just think that once the game’s done and dusted that’s the game. You can’t have retrospective refereeing of decisions being done. The game’s done and dusted, so we’ve got to trust the referees and respect their integrity.”
World Rugby are setting a dangerous president
What World Rugby have done is set a dangerous president by “retrospective refereeing” to use Jones’ phrase which is hard to disagree with.
The problem is, where do we draw the line? Are rugby coaches now entitled to an explanation after every tight decision fails to go their way?
Sport is plagued with ifs, buts and maybes and that is often what makes it so great, yes it was a factual error the referees made but did it really change the game?
Gatland has made such a big deal about this decision, we’re beginning to forget just how far England out-played Wales. If that try was given Wales still would not have won the game, in fact it might have even spurred England to kick on from second gear.
The point is, we cannot afford to take too long to make decisions on the field, look at the absolute shambles football is having with its video refereeing. To start retrospectively apologising for decisions which happen early in games, and won’t influence the results, leads one to question why are we undermining referees on the pitch.
Jones is right and World Rugby have completely humiliated the referee, Jerome Garces, who did well to control a potentially volatile game. This must be the one and only time they allow this to happen because it makes a mockery of the TMO and the match officials.