Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was left visibly angered after his side were denied a match-winning try against France on Saturday.
Townsend expressed his bewilderment that the officials failed to award Scotland a try in the final play of the game.
France ultimately claimed a 20-16 win at Murrayfield to get their Six Nations campaign up and running – but their celebrations were put on hold as referee Nic Berry and TMO Brian MacNeice spent several minutes deliberating over a possible try for Sam Skinner.
The officials discussed whether Skinner had grounded the ball on the try-line before deciding that the boot of Yoram Moefana had held it up.
“We were celebrating”
The decision has proved to be hugely controversial among fans and onlookers, with supporters in the stadium loudly booing the officials when they stuck with the original call not to give the score.
“We were celebrating in the coaches’ box, having seen the pictures of the ball being placed down on the try line after having been on the player’s boot,” said a frustrated Townsend.
“That was also after hearing the communication to the referee from the TMO to say that the ball started on the foot and then went on the ground.
“The ref then says, ‘I can also see that (ball) on the ground’ then their last interaction was ‘hang on, let’s look at that other angle….yeah, it’s inconclusive now, stick with your on-field decision’.
“It was TMO-driven. If the referee is seeing the pictures we were all seeing in the stadium, maybe it’s on his shoulders as well to say, ‘that’s the ball down, that’s a try’. But the TMO was the one who changed his mind and said, ‘stick with your on-field decision.’
“I don’t understand the rationale. When you see the pictures, and when you also see the conversation, they have already said between them that the ball has been placed on the try-line.”
“I’m absolutely gutted”
Scotland were in control for most of the match, taking the lead in the seventh minute through Ben White, and only let that slip in the final ten minutes of the clash.
Townsend felt his side was in control throughout the fixture and also expressed his sorrow for his players.
“I’m absolutely gutted for the players,” said Townsend. “The way the game was going in the second half, I didn’t think there would be any points scored at one stage – we were in control.
“But we did make an error that led to a scrum that led to a try. At the time, I thought it was going to be really difficult to score the required five points.
“It was then a fantastic effort to win the ball back, for Kyle Rowe to make his break and for Finn (Russell) to win the ball back and set us up on the try-line.
“The emotions straight after that when I saw the pictures were, ‘what a fantastic win, what a team to come back’.
“To play so well, go behind and come back, what a great victory for our supporters, then it’s taken away from you.
“It’s sport, we know that, and we have to be better. That’s why you play and coach – to win but also to get better. We have to make sure we take winning and losing out of the hands of referees and TMOs.”
Asked if he felt the officials had done their jobs properly, Townsend said: “I’ll leave that to you guys to decide.
“All I can say is that we were celebrating a win, our players and a lot of our supporters were by the pictures we saw. We could hear the conversations.
“Gavin Hastings (former Scotland international) was in front of us, and the media were turning round a few times as well to ask, and I’m saying, ‘yeah, it’s a try’.
“I’ll leave it to you guys to make any comment more than that, but we believe it was a try.”