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Nigel Owens highlights the crucial factor in Scotland no-try decision

By Josh Raisey
Nic Berry/ PA

The television match official has been part of rugby for over two decades now, but there have been few, if any, calls in its history as debatable and crucial as the one at Murrayfield on Saturday.

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With Scotland trailing France 20-16 in Edinburgh, they produced a pick-and-go barrage on the French line in the final play of the game. Lock Sam Skinner burrowed his way towards the line, ending up near the whitewash with a melee of legs and boots around him.

Referee Nic Berry deemed the lock to be held up, but sent the decision to his TMO Brett Cronan, who, after minutes of deliberation, decided to stick with Berry’s call, meaning France held on to the win and pandemonium ensued online.

Video Spacer

Scotland fans react to dramatic finish in the Six Nations to France

Finlay was on the ground at Murrayfield to find out what the fans thought about that tight finish between Scotland and France.

Video Spacer

Scotland fans react to dramatic finish in the Six Nations to France

Finlay was on the ground at Murrayfield to find out what the fans thought about that tight finish between Scotland and France.

While this is a decision that will be debated perhaps for the rest of the Guinness Six Nations, or maybe even beyond, former referee Nigel Owens cleared a few things up this week on his show Whistle Watch.

The refereeing centurion specified that Cronan’s job was to find enough evidence to overturn Berry’s initial decision of no-try, not whether he thought it was a try or not. That is the fundamental part of the entire exchange between the referee and his TMO, and may provide some clarity to aggrieved Scotland fans.

Match Summary

3
Penalty Goals
2
1
Tries
2
1
Conversions
2
0
Drop Goals
0
125
Carries
89
3
Line Breaks
3
12
Turnovers Lost
15
5
Turnovers Won
5

“Was it a try, yes or no?” Owens said.

“What’s important to remember here is we have an on-field decision by the referee. So, if the referee has a gut feeling or believes he’s seen what has happened, he’ll give his view.

“So in this instance, he knows the ball is over the line and he knows that it’s held up. And therefore the question is ‘my on-field decision is no-try because I believe it to be held up.’

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“If he wasn’t sure, because he hasn’t seen it, the he could have asked ‘Is it a try, yes or no?’ Or if he had felt ‘I’ve got a grounding, but I just want to make sure nothing else has happened,’ then he could have said ‘my on-field decision is a try.’

“It’s important to remember the contribution by the referee. So in this instance, the question from the referee to the TMO was on-field decision no-try, which means the TMO, looking at all the available angles that he has, will need to have evidence, clear evidence, to show otherwise to overturn that on-field decision.

“Just remember, not only is this a difficult decision, it’s a high-pressure decision as well because you know the outcome of the game is inevitable here. So it’s added pressure, it’s a big, big decision to make. So you have to be clear to get it right.

“TMO in this instance felt that he didn’t have enough clear evidence to overturn the on-field decision, and therefore it remained with the on-field decision as a no-try.

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“There’s no question to ask is it over the line or not? Because we know it’s over the line because the referee has already inputted that. That’s why the TMO is not looking at that, because we know it’s over the line.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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