Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Bryce was right!!

No not last year during the RWC quarter final …

But our buddy Bryce Lawrence was back in the spotlight last Friday morning – for the wrong reasons according to most people on Twitter – as he awarded tries to the Crusaders (against the Chiefs) from the safety of the TMO box that most people did not agree with …

I was in the minority in thinking that the try by Andy Ellis was indeed a try, so was interested to see the following from SANZAR Communications …

The scene: Andy Ellis gets tackled just short of the goal-line with the Chiefs player Kerr-Barlow managing to slide in and hold on for dear life. The Crusaders Whitelock then, within a second, cleans out the Chiefs player, still holding on for dear life. As a result, Ellis ends up over the goal-line, still in control of the ball, having successfully grounded the ball.

Referee Steve Walsh goes to the TMO – Lawrence – who awards the try …

The TMO, in its current guise, can only provide a recommendation based on the grounding of the ball.  He cannot rule on incidents that happen within the field of play (eg, tackle phase offences).  Those decisions are up to the match referee and his assistant referees.

Upon replaying Ellis’ action it can be seen that the Crusaders players have not committed any offences, Ellis has made it into In Goal legally, and in the real time of the action, successfully grounded the ball … and as such, a try was clearly scored.

So according to the Law, the right decision was given.

SANZAR Game Manager, Lyndon Bray, confirmed this on Monday morning, having reviewed the angles provided by the Sky Sports footage.

“You only have to imagine that this tackle scenario happened on the halfway line and you realise that you are dealing with the same picture that our players and referees deal with many times per game,” Bray said.

“The tackler is driven off the ball carrier by the first arriving player, who does a great job of maintaining his feet as he enters the tackle, and Ellis ends up exercising an option: that is, he has the ball on the ground over the line.”

“He does not make a second attempt to place the ball, nor does he try to get back to his feet to get over the line. The action happened all in a natural period of time. If this had happened on halfway, Ellis would have placed the ball after the Chiefs player was driven off him, and we would have played on.”

Bryce Lawrence - such a "Hit me" face ...

Extended powers of the TMO …

Proposals to extend the powers of the TMO have started being trialled in this year’s Currie Cup. The trials will, amongst other things, allow referees to consult TMOs about incidents of foul play or infringements such as knock-ons and forward passes that might have occurred anywhere on the field in the build-up to a try being scored.

SARU GM Referees, André Watson said the trials would also allow on-field match officials to use stadium screens to decide on matters, while TMOs would have the power to inform referees of “incidents and issues” over and above those usually requested when trying to determine whether or not a try had been scored.

The full TMO trials are as follows:

TMO may be referred to as per the current application as well as:
1. When match officials are unsure whether foul play has occurred anywhere on the field or in-goal.
2. When match officials believe there may have been an infringement by the team that scored a try or touched down.
3. When match officials believe a try or touch-down was prevented by an infringement.
4. To confirm the success or otherwise of kicks at goal.

Infringements listed by the IRB include:
• Knock-on
• Forward pass
• Player in touch
• Off-side
• Obstruction
• Tackling a player without the ball
• Foul play
• Double movement in act of scoring

How does TMO adjudicate?

• Only on the clear and obvious – there must be no doubt
• If it is not clear, the TMO is to advise it did not happen or there is no clear evidence it happened.
• TMO to advise on the infringement, the recommended sanction and where play is to restart.

TMOs can advise on sanctions:
• Penalty tries may be recommended
• If there is doubt as to whether the try would have been scored the TMO must then advise the appropriate sanction.

If foul play is referred, the TMO is to make recommendations as to the appropriate sanctions.

These trials may extend to The Rugby Championship and 2013 Super Rugby

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...


  1. “He cannot rule on incidents that happen within the field of play (eg, tackle phase offences).”

    I’ve always wondered how “foot in touch” via TMO comes into this?

    • Good point, but I think TMO can act on anything that happens “In the act of scoring”, which would include foot in touch … Could be wrong though