Now that was a weekend of rugby.
The first weekend of RWC 2015, and what a start. There has been with TMO controversy and a couple of shocks, one which will have registered on the Richter Scale. Also the defending champions and favourites made to fight right to the end, and Richie McCaw getting a yellow card. Only his third in test rugby.
I have always had concerns about extension of the use of TMO. It is often used speculatively, when a team says there has ben foul play, or when a simple call by the official is referred to the TMO. I think that a referee’s decision should not be overturned, except when there is foul play (and then only if the TMO refers it). The decision in the England-Fiji game (which was incorrect) only got overturned when the referee saw the replay. As he had not requested the TMO, it should not have been changed as the referees gave the try (which no-one complained about). It is similar to the Stuart Hogg incident with Dan Biggar in the 6N in 2014. The referee saw the incident and awarded a penalty and yellow card. He then saw a reply on the screen and decided it deserved a red card (it did), and called Hogg back on and sent him off. My issue is that who controls what is shown on the screen? I can’t recall any replays being shown of foul play at any game I have attended at Murrayfield, as they always go to the default of the SRU crest. What we may see is that any foul play by an opposition player (away team) will be shown, while any transgression by a home player won’t. I would like to think there is a protocol of what is shown, but I couldn’t find one. What I do hope is that the TMO does not get involved in every bread and butter decision, as some of the games this weekend were lasting over 50 minutes each half.
As for the rest of the rugby, what a game in Brighton. I never saw that coming! It completely throws Pool B wide open, and probably does Scotland a favour, as any potential complacency will have been eliminated. Their game against Japan in Gloucester on Wednesday will be fascinating. The game itself had everything that is great about rugby; tries, creativity and entertainment. Dame Kelly Holmes, tweeted that the game had converted her to a fan. The result overshadowed another shock, with Georgia beating Tonga, in another captivating game.
Elsewhere, easy wins for Ireland and Wales, and the rare sight of Richie McCaw being sin binned. He knew exactly what he was doing, and the TMO allowed the correct call to be made. Not the best New Zealand performance, but they will be happy to beat their closest rivals in their group.
All the games this weekend had the best bits of the game, and whets the appetite for the rest of the World Cup. Just a shame there is a 2 day break before the next round of fixtures. Roll on Wednesday.