Lions try: SARU seek clarity
Cape Town - General Manager of Referees at SARU, André Watson, says they have asked the IRB to rule on a contentious decision to award the Lions a try in their Super Rugby clash against the Blues last weekend.VIDEO: Lions try from Piutau 'knock back' INTERVIEW: André Watson chats to Sport24
While attempting to score, Lions centre Deon van Rensburg lost the ball when he was tackled by Blues wing Charles Piutau.
The ball spilled forward into the in-goal area, with Lions fullback Coenie van Wyk falling on the loose ball for the "try".
South African referee Stuart Berry initially referred the incident to the TMO (Johan Greeff), asking whether Van Rensburg knocked the ball forward or whether it was the Blues player that knocked it out of his hands.
While replays showed Van Rensburg was carrying the ball before losing it in the tackle, Berry awarded the try.
The Blues, who ended up losing the game 39-36, questioned the decision and asked for SANZAR to provide clarity on the call.
SANZAR's referee manager Lyndon Bray then responded by saying it was an illegitimate try.
"Lions No 13 (Van Rensburg) is carrying the ball and about to attempt to score a try. Blues No 11 (Charles Piutau) effects a tackle and Lions No 13 loses possession as a result, " Bray said via a statement.
"While the Blues player does jolt the ball out of his possession, he is not trying to deliberately 'rip the ball' out of the player's possession. The onus is on the ball carrier to maintain possession while being tackled. Therefore, this should have been ruled as a knock on and subsequently, no try," concluded Bray.
However, Watson suggested that SARU felt differently on the matter and that there's still uncertainty.
In an exclusive interview with Sport24
, Watson said it was not clear that Van Rensburg had lost the ball or if it was dislodged.
"I believe it was not a contentious issue from a refereeing point of view but rather from a law perspective. The knock-on law is very clear: a player needs to lose possession, with the ball then travelling in a forward direction.
"However, the debate with regard to this specific incident revolves around whether the ball-carrier lost the ball or whether the ball was dislodged from his grasp as a result of the action of the tackler.
"While SANZAR have issued a statement saying the try should not have stood, we at SARU have referred the matter to the IRB and are awaiting a ruling. The debate is currently hanging in the air as two contrasting opinions currently exist," said Watson.