‘We would have felt aggrieved’ – Jaco Peyper weighs in on crucial TMO decisions during Springboks v Ireland

Jared Wright
ex-referee Jaco Peyper.

Jaco Peyper has weighed in on the crucial TMO calls.

Former international referee Jaco Peyper has weighed in on the key TMO interventions from the first Test between the Springboks and Ireland.

Peyper joined South Africa’s coaching staff after announcing his retirement from refereeing and is currently working as SA Rugby’s national laws advisor.

The 44-year-old fronted the media on Monday, where he was asked about the crucial decisions during the first Test in Pretoria, with James Lowe’s try disallowed while South Africa were the beneficiary of another tight decision resulting in Cheslin Kolbe’s try.

While the decisions have been hotly debated since the final whistle, Peyper believes that the officials got the vital decisions right and they were made with ‘facts’.

Ireland’s disallowed try

Lowe’s try was disallowed after TMO Ben Whitehouse alerted referee Luke Pearce about an infringement at the ruck by hooker Rónan Kelleher, who had illegally hooked the ball backwards for an Irish turnover.

“It’s pretty simple when it’s TMO decisions it’s got to be factually based,” he explained.

“The TMO has the same visibility as the coaches in the boxes, they have got eight angles all at the same time, and he would have seen a few of those type of actions in the lead-up in different rucks.

“So if you get points scored from that, then they have to have a look at that turnover, and factually, the player is off his feet, and he gains possession with a turnover.

“Sometimes you don’t want to step in touch, but you’re still in touch so sometimes you don’t want to, sometimes you don’t want to make that turnover when you are off your feet but you still do it even though you don’t mean it. Factually: he is off his feet, turnover made, so the try can’t be scored.”

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Neck roll

However, Peyper did feel that the Springboks were fortunate not to concede a penalty after the review as full-back Willie le Roux had grappled Kelleher around the neck when clearing him out.

“Then it becomes a debate whether it should be a penalty to Ireland because there was a touch to the neck [at the ruck], so that is debatable,” he added.

“And maybe the officials tried to stay consistent because a few minutes earlier, there was exactly the same scenario of Kwagga Smith which was play on, so maybe that’s even-handed.

“That’s all in the game of rugby, we can’t referee everything but you can’t leave stuff that’s high impact.”

Peyper believes that the officials followed the correct process in ruling out the try and while there have been questions around whether the TMO should be allowed to have so much of an influence on the match, particularly with the multiple infringements that can occur in a ruck, he restated that the decision had been justified.

“I think if it’s a technical infringement but if it’s a player making a decision to go off his feet, I think that’s under a cynical infringement rather than a technical infringement,” said Peyper, again referencing the disallowed try.

“A player going off his feet, that would be my understanding of it. But if you look at that, I think 10 seconds earlier, there was a clear knock-on by [Craig] Casey behind the ruck, so I think we shouldn’t have got there.

“It’s factually based, if you look at that incident two years ago at the Aviva, Ireland scored a try where the exact same action where a hooker kicked the ball out of the breakdown and Ireland got the benefit of the doubt that day.

“This time, it went the other way so fact proven and I could follow the process.”

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Cheslin Kolbe’s try

Turning his focus to Koble’s try, where Lowe attempted to keep the ball in play from a penalty kick to touch, only for it to land in the speeding Springbok’s pathway – he duly kicked the ball on and managed to round off a memorable try.

Referee Pearce called an on-field try, but TMO Whitehouse was brought in to check whether Lowe had landed on the ground while in possession before throwing the ball back in-field.

However, the evidence was inconclusive but Peyper did admit that had that decision gone against the Springboks, they will have been disgruntled.

“It’s fine margins so they have to be very clear, it’s a big test match so rather have one replay too many than two too little,” the ex-referee said.

“On-field decision is try, that means it stands until there’s evidence that proves otherwise, so if it’s suspicious, play through try stands; if it’s maybe the try stands, play through.

“They couldn’t prove with facts that he touched the ground with the ball, so you have to stay with the on-field decision.

“If we were on the other side, we would have felt aggrieved but they had a clear process that we could follow.”

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