Kaplan: Match decided by TV producer

Jonathan Kaplan has questioned the decision to award the final penalty at Ellis Park on the back of television replays.

Writing on ratetheref.co.za Kaplan said that it sets a dangerous precedent, and that the decision would likely have been different had the match been played overseas. He went on to say that Nigel Owens had a disappointing day at the office in Mendoza, where Australia's Michael Hooper and Nick Phipps were harshly awarded yellow cards.

'In the end, the game came down to a decision by the TV producer to highlight a misdemeanor by Liam Messam on Schalk Burger, which all the officials missed in real time,' said Kaplan. 'After finding the clip, and then replaying it over and over, eventually the match officials decided it was worthy of review, and correctly awarded a penalty to the Boks.

'If you are a Bok supporter, you will be saying we deserved it, and how many times it happened against us. The protocol and process will mean nothing. But there is an important point to make here. I doubt (very much) whether that clip would have been brought up on the screen by producers in Australia or New Zealand and replayed over and over. Is it right that someone outside of the domain of the match officials can affect the outcome of a major Test match? And how neutral is he? In the end, it was his alertness that drew the attention of the crowd to the high tackle, they got into it, the officials then decided to take a look, and the resultant penalty determined the outcome.

'Last week I was singing Nigel Owens' praises after the match at Newlands. I thought he was poor on Saturday. He was strangely hesitant in his decision-making, once even asking the assistant referee whether there was hands in after he penalised Australia and had pulled his cards out already. He then put the cards back in his pocket.

'Towards the end of the fixture, with the game still in the balance, the ref stopped the game when Michael Hooper attempted a charge down, was airborne and in the process fell on top of Nicolás Sánchez, the kicker. He was also carded (incorrectly, as there was little he could do once he was airborne). Argentina converted the penalty and wound the clock down to record a historical moment for them and the tournament.

'My opinion of Nigel hasn’t changed. To say he was poor would be an understatement, but I know from personal experience that we all have these days (I had my fair share), and he will bounce back.'

Kaplan's full column

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images