TMO system to stay as is

2015-10-19 19:46
Craig Joubert (Gallo)

London - Rugby's governing body has no plans to review the use of the television match official (TMO), despite a furore after it was not invoked during the controversial finale of Australia's World Cup quarter-final win over Scotland.

Australia edged the Scots 35-34 at Twickenham with a last minute three-pointer and, while TV replays showed the decisive penalty may have been awarded in error, the referee had not been permitted to consult the TMO due to the nature of the infringement.

"In the build-up to the tournament we have been at pains to explain the exact remit and protocols around the TMO," a World Rugby (WR) spokesman told Reuters on Monday.

"The protocols are available on the website," he said, adding that there are no plans to extend them.

South African referee Craig Joubert awarded the decisive penalty for deliberate offside in Sunday's clash.

Replays showed the decision should probably have been for accidental offside -- resulting in a scrum which may have allowed Scotland to hang on to their lead and advance to the semi-finals.

Howls of protest from players and pundits followed, all complaining that Joubert had not consulted the TMO over the decision.

Rugby luminaries including Ian McGeechan, Clive Woodward, Michael Lynagh, Lawrence Dallaglio and Gavin Hastings, all working as media pundits, were united in saying the TMO should have been involved.

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and coach Vern Cotter also lamented the lack of a TMO referral, as did the vast majority of the near-80,000 Twickenham crowd, with boos ringing around the ground as Bernard Foley slotted the penalty.

"I don't know what the protocol is," Laidlaw admitted. "But you could see from the way he (Joubert) had taken his time that he had a good look at the big screen and wasn't sure."

World Rugby's (WR) rules clearly state that the TMO can only be used to determine on acts of foul play, ruling on an infringement in the build-up to a try and to check the grounding of the ball and kicks at goal -- but not whether the penalty for offside was correct.

"We have issued media releases about them (TMO protocols) and tweeted about them," the WR spokesman said.

"We held a pre-tournament briefing at Twickenham for media where John Jeffrey explained, among other things, the TMO system," he added, pointing out that at the start of the tournament referees had been criticised for going to the TMO too often.

WR responded quickly to that issue, encouraging referees to talk to TMOs without stopping the game -- a move widely welcomed by pundits and media.

Fans would no doubt be unhappy if the games were stopped to review every penalty decision -- often over 20 per match -- but there remained a simmering sense of dissatisfaction on Monday that even if the correct protocol had been followed, it seemed unfair for such a massive match to be decided on a decision that everyone in the ground, via big screen replays, could see appeared wrong.

Joubert also drew criticism on Sunday for running off the pitch at full time instead of following the usual procedure of shaking hands with his assistants and the players.

However, World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper was reluctant to offer any sort of opinion on Joubert's performance.

"We do a full review of the referees post game, that process is underway so I don't really want to comment on the specifics of the decisions taken or what Craig did before or after the game," he told the BBC on Monday.

"Maybe he was keen to get to the bathroom? We'll find out and we'll talk with Craig -- but he is a superb referee."

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