Is it really possible that New Zealand Rugby will give Ian Foster his marching orders in the event that the All Blacks lose to Argentina on Saturday in the penultimate game of the Tri Nations competition?
So the Scottish fans and players are furious referee Craig Joubert did not consult the television match official (TMO) after he awarded the Wallabies a penalty at the 78th minute which resulted in “Iceman” Bernard Foley booting the ball between the posts for a one point win over Scotland.
The complaint by the Scottish fans and the Wallabies-haters against Craig Joubert was that if the referee had consulted the TMO, the infringement would only incur a scrum to the Wallabies instead of a full-arm penalty. A replay would show the ball went forward from a Scottish player and touched Wallabies player Nick Phipps before it was picked up a Scottish player.
The more relevant question we need to ask is this: Did Joubert do the right thing by the Law of Rugby by not referring the infringement to the TMO?
Of course he did.
If Joubert had consulted the TMO, he would have broken the Laws of Rugby.
Even the great Michael Lynagh got it wrong when he said the referee should have consulted the TMO.
The rugby rules are very clear about when the TMO should be consulted by the referee.
Here is what the rule book says:
6.A.4 The duties of the referee in the playing enclosure
(a) The referee is the sole judge of fact and of Law during a match. The referee must apply fairly all the Laws of the Game in every match.
6 A.7. Referee consulting others
Law amendment trial
(b) A match organiser may appoint an official known as a Television Match Official (TMO) who uses technological devices to clarify situations relating to;
(i) When there is doubt as to whether a ball has been grounded in in-goal for a score or a touchdown.
(ii) Where there is doubt as to whether a kick at goal has been successful.
(iii) Where there is doubt as to whether players were in touch or touch in goal before grounding the ball in in-goal or the ball has been made dead.
(iv) Where match officials believe an offence or infringement may have occurred in the field of play leading to a try or preventing a try.
(v) Reviewing situations where match officials believe foul play may have occurred.
(vi) Clarifying sanctions required for acts of foul play.
What this means is if Craig Joubert were to consult the TMO, he would have broken the rules himself. And that is a no-no.
More importantly, the assistant referee did not move in to discuss with the referee to review the decision to award the penalty to draw the referee’s attention that he saw no infringement or that a scrum was a more appropriate decision.
Perhaps, at that point in time, both the assistance referee and referee saw the award of the penalty was the correct decision.
What all this means is the whingeing and the whining by the Scottish fans, including the Scotland skipper Laidlaw, of the referee not consulting the TMO mean they don’t know the Law of Rugby at all.
Here is another poser:
Would Scotland skipper Laidlaw demand that the TMO be consulted if the same situation had arisen, say, in the 20th or 40th minute of play. Surely they would not, would they?
So why should they demand that Craig Joubert break the Laws of Rugby to consult the TMO just because it happened at the 78th minute and that Scotland was leading?
We need to remind ourselves, that all referees, not just Craig Joubert will make mistakes in matches at one point or another. Even judges in the court of law do make mistakes.
It is part of the rough and tumble of contact sport that you play by the whistle.
And as the laws of rugby clearly states: the referee is the sole judge of fact and laws of rugby. Period.
Scotland got to live with it. Referee Craig Joubert did the right thing by the book by not consulting the TMO, and as he saw the game in that moment in time, he saw an infringement by Scotland that attracted a penalty.
As Michael Cheika said, even if the Wallabies were awarded a penalty, they still need to put the ball between the posts. And Foley did just that.
Secondly, let’s say if there a scrum was awarded to the Wallabies, who is to say the Wallabies might not have got a five-pointer try?
So the “what-ifs” are just not on.
I have seen Craig Joubert referee plenty of games. He is still among the better referees of the lot.
As for the game itself, the Wallabies did themselves no favours for putting themselves in that ridiculous situation of having to win by one point through a penalty at the last minute.
For a team that was touted as a Cup contender after a brilliant display of rugby against England and Wales, the poor ball handling, the indiscipline and the carelessness in ball passing, were simply inexcusable.
Despite that, they still managed five tries against Scotland’s three, two of were opportunistic efforts. So, did the Wallabies deserve the win?
I must say, yes, even if it is one point, and even if the Craig Joubert rightly did not consult the TMO. But you cannot take away the fact that Scotland, as an underdog, did rattle the touted World Cup contender for the full 80 minutes.