A decision made by the match officials in the Guinness Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland confused me at the time, and having looked at the protocols, I feel that the referee / TMO made a poor call. With the spotlight being on VAR in football and the fact that there have been many contentious decisions, it is interesting that the rugby TMO is not infallible. The decision I don’t think would have influenced the outcome, but the fact that the protocols were not followed is the concern.
In the 24thminute, Scotland made a line-break, and almost scored in the corner. The last pass was either forward or tipped by an Irish arm, it then went out of play with Scotland touching it down on the line of the dead ball area. The decision was no try, which was correct. But the referee wanted to check whether the ball had been tipped or it was a forward pass, and I believe the grounding to check.
What was checked was not the grounding (which is normally the first check), but the pass at the very start of the move around the half way line. The protocol was breached as the TMO (decided a decision) ruled on a phase of play that was not foul play, in the build-up to what wasn’t a try. This is outside the remit so he should not have ruled on it. At the time, I thought the ref had asked for clarification on whether it was a try as he was not sure if it was Scotland knock-on. As the initial decision would have shown it wasn’t a try, this would have been a moot point. So, I still have no idea why they went back to the forward pass in midfield. The impact of the call, was that rather than having a defensive scrum on the 5m line, Ireland had a scrum in midfield and much better field position.
Why it was checked was that Ireland captain, Rory Best, questioned whether it was forward, but I think that he was raising it in case it had been a try.
It may seem to be nit picking, but for the TMO to work, it should at least follow the World Rugby Guidelines. https://laws.worldrugby.org/?law=6&language=EN