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The Bristol verdict on a rare Premiership match without having TMO

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

Pat Lam has admitted he will be glad that the TMO will be back in action when Bristol face Wasps this Saturday in Coventry following last weekend’s unusual experience of not having the television match official review incidents as they happened during a Gallagher Premiership match.

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Premiership Rugby announced last Friday afternoon that the game later that night between Bristol and Bath at Ashton Gate had been postponed until 5pm the following afternoon due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The fixture was originally set to be the live TV lift-off for the new 2022/23 league season on BT Sport but its delay until Saturday meant the trucks that had been in situ at Bristol had since moved on elsewhere and this late development meant it wasn’t possible to provide the necessary pictures for TMO Rowan Kitt to assist referee Tom Foley.

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Not having the fourth official available resulted in a lot of niggles and off-the-ball stuff, including the bizarre sight of Bath hooker Niall Annett, an unused replacement at the time, getting red-carded for joining in a melee that broke out among the players.

“It does highlight (what can happen) when you don’t have one,” said Lam, who will be glad that Kitt will definitely be in action this Saturday at Coventry as the TMO in support of referee Karl Dickson.

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“Of course, everyone would say, ‘Don’t have the TMO’ but I think at this level you do. Both Johann (van Graan, the Bath coach) and I said before the game, it was unforeseen circumstances that had happened and we just had to adapt and adjust and move with it. You know for both sides there were things that normally would be picked up but that is the way it is.

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“It just highlights the importance of the TMO as we go through, so I thought both teams just adapted to it and we have moved on. Nobody would think the game was fast. There were just 30 minutes ball in play, it was such a slow game in that sense.”

The midweek disciplinary hearing outcome for the red-carded Annett resulted in a two-match ban for an incident that left the Bath front-rower ‘apologetic, remorseful and ashamed‘.

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