Former Test referee Jonathan Kaplan says rugby should consider introducing a captain’s on-field appeal to change poor decisions by match officials.
In his regular column for the Daily Telegraph, Kaplan wrote that after a glaring error in the Six Nations match between Ireland and Scotland last weekend, rugby should introduce a system where captains can call for a review of a decision.
Kaplan claimed referee Mathieu Raynal made an incorrect and potentially game-changing decision in the contest, which Ireland went on to win 19-12. Raynal penalised Ireland after Josh van der Flier ripped the ball from Scotland’s Nick Haining, despite the fact that Haining had played the ball on the ground after a tackle.
‘In the end it came to nothing but it could have been a huge moment in the game – potentially a 10-point swing if Scotland had scored a converted try from great field position – and one which was obviously an incorrect call after a single replay,’ Kaplan wrote.
‘That is why I would like each captain to be given one challenge per half to contest on-field decisions made by the referee. It would work similarly to cricket’s challenge system, which I feel has worked well for a long time.
‘If your challenge is not upheld then you lose it, but if the decision is overturned then you retain it so you can use it again later in the game. As with cricket, if the error isn’t clear and obvious then we would stay with the on-field call, meaning the challenging captain would lose their review.
‘I can understand people who say we need to reduce the use of the TMO, rather than increase it. But if these challenges are for obvious errors then I would hope we would get a swift resolution to each challenge. I also don’t buy into the notion that “these things always even themselves out”. To me that is a very amateur approach to what is now a very professional game, and as a sport we must strive to be better than that.’
A similar system has been trialled with the white card in South Africa’s Varsity Cup, where a coach or captain from either side allowed one review per half.
*Have you signed up to our newsletter? Click here to join the thousands of readers who are part of our newsletter community.
Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images