Brian O’Driscoll reveals the simple question that could have avoided Scotland v France controversy

Colin Newboult
Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll while working as a pundit.

Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll while working as a pundit.

Legendary centre Brian O’Driscoll ‘understood’ why the match-winning try was not awarded to Scotland on Saturday, but insisted that the referee could have asked a different question.

Nic Berry felt that the ball was held up by a France boot, which meant TMO Brian MacNeice had to find clear evidence that it had been scored.

O’Driscoll had sympathy for Berry and stated that the official made the call on the basis of what he thought he saw live.

“The problem is that Nic Berry is nearly licking the ball himself, he’s two yards away,” he told Off The Ball. “They’re human too, around the pressure and stress levels that they’re feeling.”

Changes in TMO usage

The question ‘try, yes or no?’ used to be common parlance in rugby, but that led to complaints that the television match officials, rather than the referees, were having too much influence in the final decision.

World Rugby, therefore, altered the guidelines with the man in the middle urged to take more responsibility when asking for what he wants the TMO to look at.

It was designed to both speed up the game and give the referee – the ultimate arbiter during a match – more authority.

World Rugby laws state that the refereeing team should, when going up to the TMO, ask either: “on-field decision, ‘try,’ with reasoning to substantiate such” or “on-field decision, ‘no try’, with reasoning to substantiate such”, which was what Berry did.

However, there is also a passage in the law which allows the officiating group to send it up to the TMO without any definitive statement if they are unsure.

It is, therefore, going back to the principle of ‘try, yes or no?’ and O’Driscoll feels that, given the circumstances, Berry would have been better served asking that question in the Scotland v France encounter.

“Obvious statement”

“For them to come to a decision and calm things down, that was the obvious statement. He is still allowed to do it,” he said.

“It’s strange that we don’t hear it very much, it feels like they really want to lead the TMO themselves with their on-field decision by putting it one way or another, so they’re taking the reins.

“It’s (the referee’s call), therefore, being backed up by video evidence from the TMO, and maybe that’s the thinking behind it.”

“If he does in that situation, there’s a capacity, of course, from Brian MacNeice to go, ‘it looks like there’s a try there, for sure.’ But when you say, ‘it’s no try, I can’t see it’s a try,’ you have to have 100 per cent certainty.

“I think from a neutral point of view, which I am, I can understand why that (decision was made).”

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