Planet Rugby

Letter of the Week

20th March 2014 13:53

Share:

Planet Rugby mail

Got an opinion? Mail us!

Planet Rugby readers are never short of an opinion and our mailbox is seldom empty. This week, a disgruntled Scotland fan questions the use of the big screen by referees.

Got an opinion? We'd like to hear it, so why not send us an email HERE.

Stuart Hogg should not have seen red
By Duncan Macintyre

There has been much debate about the Wales v Scotland Six Nations match on the 15th March as to whether Stuart Hogg's red card was justified.

Something which has received far less discussion but is of much greater relevance to the wider game is how referee Jérôme Garcès made his decision and whether it was allowed under the laws of the game.

The red card was given for Hogg jumping dangerously into Dan Biggar after Biggar had kicked the ball downfield.

Garcès, who had a clear view of the incident, stopped the game immediately and showed the yellow card to Hogg without consulting his touch judges or the Television Match Official (TMO). As Hogg walked off the pitch various replays of the incident were replayed on the stadium's big screens. Garcès watched the replays and then decided to alter his original decision to a red card.

The relevant laws of the game here are Law 6.A.5 - The referee may alter a decision when an assistant referee has raised the flag to signal touch or an act of foul play and Law 6.A.6.d - The referee must not consult with any other persons.

Law 6.A.5 is not applicable as Garcès had clearly seen the incident and had made a decision of foul play without consulting his touch judges.

Law 6.A.6.d is however applicable and by watching the replays on the big screens Garcès was effectively consulting with the person in charge of choosing what footage was screened.

This is not allowed presumably because it gives a major advantage to the home team as they are able to decide what decisions to replay. Contentious decisions involving the home team might not be replayed, whilst every decision in favour of the away team could be replayed in slow-motion with the hope of identifying any potential infringements.

An IRB memo released in September 2013 did change the TMO protocol to allow the referee to make decisions based on the big screens but only when the decision had already been referred to the TMO.

After the match Warren Gatland also weighed in with a lack of knowledge of the laws of the game by reportedly stating "we'd seen it in the box but we got a message pretty quickly to Sam Warburton to ask him to have the TMO have a look at it".

However under Law 6.A.6.d it is not allowed for a player to ask the referee to refer decisions to a TMO so this would have been a fruitless course of action had Garcès not already decided to alter his original decision.

If Garcès' decision was allowed under IRB regulations then this has not been communicated by the IRB properly and has certainly not been used consistently by other referees, furthermore without an independent fourth official in charge of broadcasting the replays it cannot be considered a fair process of adjudication.

If Garcès' decision was not allowed then Scotland has suffered a major injustice and Garcès has made a significant blunder that may affect his status as an elite panel referee.

Although the disciplinary committee has subsequently ruled that Hogg's challenge deserved a three-week ban, this alone cannot be considered justification for Garcès altering his decision. There have been many dubious refereeing decisions over the years that would have been altered if the referee had checked a big screen replay.

If Garcès had no authority to use the replay to correct his initial mistake then he has shown an appalling lack of knowledge of the laws of the game and also set a dangerous precedent that home teams would be foolish not to seek to exploit, and the IRB must act quickly to rectify the situation.

Requests to the IRB for clarification on the laws surrounding this issue have gone unanswered, although their policy of not publicly criticising referees may not allow them to reply.

For the tens of thousands of Scottish rugby fans who paid for an expensive match ticket, and travelled for many hours in the prospect of watching a great game of rugby refereed to a high standard this is unfair.

Hogg had the decency to apologise to the fans, Garcès and Biggar. Garcès and the IRB, it seems, don't respect the Scottish fans enough to do the same.

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00