‘Sorry we got caught’ – RFU’s statement on Saracens v Harlequins TMO receives major backlash

Jared Wright
Joe Marler's tweet and Saracens' Alex Goode celebrates with Juan Martin Gonzalez after scoring their eighth try during the Gallagher Premiership match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

The statement has not been well received.

The RFU and PGMOT statement on the TMO during the Saracens v Harlequins Premiership match has been met with criticism from fans and pundits alike.

The statement addressed the controversial decision of the fourth official, who ignored potential foul play by Quins forward Stephan Lewies on Saracens captain Owen Farrell.

TMO controversy

TNT Sport commentator and ex-England international Austin Healey spotted the incident and called for the TMO to review it, but his pleas were ignored, and the match official, Stuart Terheege, reaction was overheard on the broadcast.

“The problem we’ve got now of course is that it looks like Healey’s instigated it,” he said.

As the broadcast replayed the incident, he added: “Oh, don’t show it”.

After a mass outcry, the RFU confirmed that the events would be investigated and have since released a statement on their findings.

In the statement, it is claimed that TMO Terheege had already decided on the evidence that was presented to him that the incident “was no more than a penalty advantage” and as Saracens went onto score, that advantage was deemed to have been taken, so no further action was required.”

The statement added that TMOs do not “actively listen or react to the broadcast commentary team” but that “due to their location at the matches, they sometimes overhear commentary.”

Joe Marler mocks RFU statement on ‘regrettable’ TMO incident during Saracens v Harlequins game

Reaction to the statement

Fans and pundits have slammed the joint statement in social media platform X, formerly Twitter with England prop Joe Marler – who played in the match – also joining the pile on.

Joe Marler's tweet which reads: "They don’t know their a***holes from their nose holes

“The ‘sometimes’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting,” @RugbyInsideLine wrote, referencing that the TMOs “sometimes overhear commentary”.

Adding: “The TMO should not be able to hear commentary. Full stop.

“Also they were at the best football stadium in the world. Out of all the stadiums to blame, it’s probably not that one!”

There were several sarcastic reactions to the statements as well.

“We’re sorry we got caught, we’re not admitting to doing anything wrong, and we’ll try not to get caught again,” One reply read.

“Oh so that’s completely believable,” another remarked.

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Meanwhile, Telegraph writer Charles Richardson questioned the content of the statement, pondering why Terheege requested a clip of the incident if already deemed that it was “no more than a penalty advantage.”

“Massive can of words (sic) opened with this clumsy RFU statement but the burning question is… Why did the TMO request for the incident to be clipped up by the director if the RFU are saying he was happy with the on-field decision?” Richardson posted.

Other responses just dubbed the statement from the RFU and PGMOT as “Pathetic”, “BS”, and “absolutely nonsense.”

The events described by the statement were continually questioned online with post reading: “Absolute nonsense from the RFU. If the tmo had already made his decision why did he say “the problem I have got now is that it looks like Austin has instigated it, because we’re late, so I don’t want to talk about it, OK?”

Progressive Rugby, a player welfare lobby group that slammed the actions taken on the day, also weighed in once again.

“The statement from the RFU on this incident is clumsy and non-sensical. The offending player’s actions were unquestionably reckless and required further scrutiny. Foul play does not and must not be excused because a try has been scored,” their post on X read.

READ MORE: Premiership Team of the Week: Saracens dominate after London Derby blowout as George Chuter impressed by ‘complete ten’ Owen Farrell