The TMO debate: worth waiting to get it right, or result of weak refereeing?
Julian Bennetts studies lengthy video reviews that frustrated fans and viewers during England’s opener
Twitter went into overdrive as the Television Match Official spent over 10 minutes deliberating key decision during England’s win over Fiji – and while each of his rulings were correct did they need to be referred upstairs?
South African official Shaun Veldsman was called on six separate times with the Twickenham crowd spending 10min 8sec watching replays on the big screen.
The referee, assistants or the TMO himself can request for decisions to be reviewed and all did so as they assessed three potential tries, two illegal clear outs and a dangerous tackle.
The most controversial was when referee Jaco Peyper, from South Africa, was influenced by the television replays inside the stadium as he asked to review Fijian scrum-half Nikola Matawalu’s spectacular individual try a fully 57 seconds after he had originally awarded it.
Ben Volavola, the Fiji fly-half, was preparing to take the conversion attempt and if he had done so the try, which was eventually disallowed when the replays showed that Matawalu had dropped the ball before grounding it, could not have been reviewed.
That was the one occasion on which Peyper made a swift decision on the field, but he should actually have used the TMO immediately.
And Peyper appeared to be having a crisis of confidence when he reviewed Nemani Nadolo’s score after leaping above Anthony Watson to field a crossfield kick two minutes later. There appeared to be no need to check either the Fijian’s take of the high ball or the grounding.
The other incidents that were referred seemed to be influenced by World Rugby’s focus on player safety, with illegal clear outs and dangerous tackles set to be closely monitored.
England flanker Tom Wood, could have been shown a yellow card for the way he dragged Dominiko Waqaniburotu out of a maul by his neck and threw him to the ground.
But having not sent Apisalome Ratuniyarawa to the sin-bin for failing to use his arms in an earlier clear out that was also referred to the TMO, Peyper gave him Wood the benefit of the doubt.
Tipping point: This tackle on wing Jonny May was referred despite being in clear view of the assistant