TMO protocol must change

World Rugby should share the blame for the last-minute penalty that helped the Wallabies beat Scotland, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

On Monday, the game's governing body took the unprecedented step of pointing out referee Craig Joubert's error in awarding the Wallabies a last-minute penalty in their quarter-final, which Bernard Foley kicked to give them a 35-34 win.

Joubert, said World Rugby in a statement, should have awarded the Wallabies a scrum when Scotland replacement prop Jon Welsh played the ball in an offside position, as Australian replacement scrumhalf Nick Phipps had intentionally played the ball following the knock-on from Scotland flank John Hardie (Phipps, who appealed for a penalty at the time, admitted as much after the game).

However, Phipps's involvement only became apparent when watching slow-motion replays of the incident, a luxury not afforded to Joubert, who had to make a difficult decision in real time.

The South African would also no doubt have referred the incident to the TMO, except he couldn't, as World Rugby protocol states that the TMO can only be used to check if a try has been scored or foul play has occurred.

Clearly, that is a law that needs to change and a referee should be able to check any contentious decision, especially if it occurs late in a match and can determine the outcome. The TMO has been used so often during this World Cup, with some matches taking more than 100 minutes to complete as a result, so why not use it when you really need to, no matter what the reason?

It would have taken a minute or two for the TMO to tell Joubert what had happened, and we would have been spared the controversy, and negative publicity for the game, that has followed.

Rather than hang Joubert out to dry, World Rugby should take some responsibility for what happened at Twickenham, because it is just as much to blame.

Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt