Welsh Rugby Union slam TMO after ‘plucky losers’ Cardiff are ‘robbed of statement victory’

Jared Wright
Tinus De Beer of Cardiff during the United Rugby Championship Round 13 match between Munster Rugby and Cardiff Rugby at Thomond Park

Cardiff Rugby fly-half Tinus De Beer.

The Welsh Rugby Union have slammed the performance of the officiating team that took charge of Ulster v Cardiff in the United Rugby Championship on Friday evening.

In a rather pointed match report on the official Welsh Rugby Union website, TMO Andrew McMenemy was heavily criticised for ruling out winger Theo Cabanago’s third try.

In the final two minutes of the encounter, Cardiff led 17-16 and were defending an Ulster attack on their 22 when prop Rhys Carre reached out in an attempt to intercept a pass.

TMO controversy

Lock Ben Donnell regathered the ball and quickly spread the ball wide, with fly-half Tinus de Beer kicking into Ulster’s half. He managed to regather the ball himself and keep the ball alive, with replacement scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou providing the last pass to Cabango, who raced over for what would have been a hat-trick score.

However, TMO McMenemy called it back, and it was judged that Carre had deliberately knocked on the ball. Referee Mike Adamson disallowed the try and awarded Ulster a penalty on the Cardiff 22.

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney stepped up to slot the penalty from the tee to put his side into a 19-17 lead in the game’s final minutes as the Irish province secured the victory.

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The match’s outcome proved controversial among spectators, and the WRU were frank with their summation of the final proceedings.

“Cardiff were robbed of a first win in Ulster for 14 years, and their first win of 2024, when the TMO joined forces with the referee to rule out a hat-trick try for Theo Cabanago and instead awarded a penalty to the home side on the 22 at the other end of the pitch,” the match report on wru.wales read.

“Between them the officials decided that replacement prop Rhys Carre had deliberately knocked on a pass on his 22, even though the ball spun backwards and ended up in the hands of his teammate Ben Donnell.”

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Tough night for Cardiff

The report added: “Having battled so well on the road in Glasgow and Munster in their last two games, this looked as though it was going to be the moment Matt Sherratt’s side finally broke their duck this year and moved from plucky losers to worthy winners.”

Ulster’s Cormac Izuchukwu denied Thomas Young a try during the match, seemingly kicking the ball out of the flanker’s hands, which was not penalised by the officials.

The WRU report added: “It was that kind of night for Cardiff, who deserved more than they got”.

The final stages of the match were described as the “most cruel of endings.”

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