The All Blacks were well beaten in an old fashion tussle in their Tri-Nations match against the Boks in Port Elizabeth. It was their first loss of the season, but the ABs looked over confident and somewhat arrogant in their approach, resting several key players. However, there is a lack of depth to this side on this showing, which will worry the home faithful – with New Zealand favourites to win the World Cup next month.
However, the biggest talking point of the game came when Jimmy Cowan appreared to have scored a dodgy try. Israel Dagg had been hauled down just short after a scintillating break, and popped the ball up (and three meters forward) to Cowan to dive over the line.
First thing first. Its staggering how many elite players cannot pass the ball backwards. These are internationals, they know what they are doing. Its unbelievable the poor level of skill they demonstrate at times.
Now, back to the try. Referee George Clancy was clearly unsure and Kiwi/English Assistant Ref Andrew Small – who was in perfect position, was of no help (as usual) and so Clancy went to the TMO Johan Meuwesen.
After telling Clancy that there was no problem with the grounding he then offered some further advice: “Do you need any other information before the goal line?”. “ummmm. Sure!” said Clancy. The TMO informed the Ref there was a forward pass. Clancy ruled the forward pass without hesitation.
Now this was the right thing to do. It was a forward pass. Had the try stood it would have been a travesty. The Kiwi press were mixed – but most lambasted the officials for going outside agreed protocols. Paddy O’Brien, IRB Head of Referees was furious and said the matter will be reviewed.
Paddy is himself a Kiwi, a once great referee, but he may be a little more partisan than he should – particularly when you consider he was one of the driving forces behind promoting fellow Kiwis Andrew Small and Bryce Lawrenson to International status – both still totally out of their depth.
Graham Henry was gracious in defeat, stating that if it was a forward pass then it shouldn’t have been a try. The IRB need to get to grips and help referees further. If it is clear that something has occurred in the act of scoring the try then they should be allowed to intervene.
Given that the majority of referees will never have the benefit of other officials or TMOs, we have to use our initiative, and as often as possible, we have to use the Force!