'Unique' incident denied Bulls
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Cape Town - The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has reaffirmed best practice for assistant referees (ARs) when judging kicks at poles following a “unique” incident in a Currie Cup Premier Division match last weekend.
André Watson, GM of Referees at SARU, also advised officials to seek the assistance of the Television Match Official (TMO) if in doubt as to whether goal kicks had been successful or otherwise.
The instruction came after a kick by Blue Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouché was ruled to have been unsuccessful in the 33rd minute of their match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Footage provided by the Blue Bulls from a camera they had positioned behind the goal posts revealed that the ball had in fact cleared the crossbar at its intersection with an upright. If the kick had been awarded the match score would have been tied at 13-13.
“When the Bulls raised the matter I looked at SuperSport’s footage from their grandstand camera and the ball clearly appeared to have passed on the wrong side of the pole,” said Watson. “However, after several hours comparing the replays frame-by-frame, the Bulls’ footage from a better angle shows the ball crossing the cross bar - it was a unique incident in my experience.
“The ARs were correctly positioned and, at the time, had no doubt that they had made the correct decision. The Cheetahs players, and particularly fullback, Hennie Danniller, who caught the ball, continued playing as if the kick had been missed as well.
“However a mistake was made, although that was only confirmed with a slow motion video reply from a unique angle. We’re always looking to cut down on errors so we have reaffirmed the guidelines for adjudication in these matters and have advised officials not to hesitate to resort to the TMO for his assistance although, in this case, it may not have contradicted the officials’ impression.”
Watson confirmed that the laws of the game leave the referee as the sole arbiter of fact and that the match points cannot be retrospectively added to the Blue Bulls’ score. They lost the match 32-18.