The laws of rugby can be difficult to follow at the best of times, but the incident at the end of the Six Nations game between Scotland and France at the weekend was a timely reminder of just how convoluted they can be.
There was an agreement among viewers that it was almost certain that the Scots had scored a try in the dying moments of the game, something that would have been enough to secure a big victory over the French at Murrayfield. The television replays certainly seemed to indicate that the ball had been grounded.
𝐖𝐇𝐀𝐓 𝐀𝐍 𝐄𝐍𝐃 𝐓𝐎 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄! 🤯
▪️ Scotland think they score
▪️ 80th minute match winning try
▪️ Referee doesn't give it
▪️ Lengthy TMO check
▪️ Not enough evidence to reverse it
🏴 16-20 🇫🇷#SCOvFRA | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/AjJFrGKxkk
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 10, 2024
However, as the referee had initially said the ball was held up, the TMO had to be 100 per cent certain that the decision was wrong. As he could not do that conclusively with the evidence available, the try was not awarded.
Some believe that this incident shows how the sport of rugby can be needlessly complicated.
Bernard Jackman calls on officials to 'simplify' laws of rugby
Bernard Jackman has consistently spoken out about some of the issues currently present when it comes to the officiating of rugby, with this being the latest example.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, the former Ireland hooker called on World Rugby to 'simplify' the sport on the back of this latest incident.
We’re making it so hard for referees and TMOs.
The next step for World Rugby is to simplify the game. We are talking about attracting new fans. Even people who have followed the game for a long time sometimes don’t understand the decisions.
I understand the decision at the end of the game against Scotland because I felt the TMO Brian MacNeice had no choice but to not allow the try.
He needs clear evidence. Once the referee said "onfield decision no try", he needed clear footage.
That’s just how hard it is, even with TV footage from multiple angles, you don’t get that evidence you need to make a decision.
The semantics relating to questions put to the TMO is certainly something that should be looked at, with the official forced to make a likely incorrect decision on this occasion due to the technicalities relating this particular rule.
As Jackman points out, simplifying the game somewhat could only be a beneficial thing as they seek to attract new fans to rugby.