'Was the TMO in the toilet?': Legality of Eben Etzebeth's try under question
A pivotal error by England lock Johnny Hill reversed a penalty in England’s favour, giving the visitors the chance to attack straight after the restart after an Owen Farrell penalty narrowed the gap to 17-6.
After pounding England’s line, the ball spilled out of the ruck after a contest by Maro Itoje. His rival lock Etzebeth scooped up the ball and dived over to score under the posts.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk kicked the conversion in swift fashion before any replays were looked at, glossing over how the ball was played by Etzebeth.
Former England flyhalf Andy Goode called out the incident on Twitter, joking that “Eddie Jones is currently making a Rassie video” after footage showed Etzebeth taking possession while still on the ground.
“It’s either the knock on or a penalty for playing the ball on the floor. Was the TMO in the toilet or the biscuit tin at that point?!” wrote Goode.
Eddie Jones is currently making a Rassie video about how Etzebeth’s try should never have been allowed. It’s either the knock on or a penalty for playing the ball on the floor. Was the TMO in the toilet or the biscuit tin at that point?! pic.twitter.com/GjhNEbUb6f
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) November 26, 2022
Many other Twitter users spotted the illegality of Etzebeth playing the ball from the ground.
The Springbok lock had flown off his feet trying to clean out originally and was still on the floor when the ball came his way.
Another user called it “shambles” after picking up the ball after a potential knock on from Faf de Klerk.
did Etzebeth play the ball from the ground before his try? looked like it to me….
— MalarkyFreeZone (@padlnjones1) November 26, 2022
A dodgy enough looking try from Eben Etzebeth under the shadow of the posts and under the nose of the referee. There was no way he was on his feet to make a play on that loose ball. #bbcrugby
— Andrew Priestley (@A_Priestley89) November 26, 2022
Gardner having a really good game, but he needed his TMO for that Etzebeth try. Whitehouse conveniently asleep and Faf takes the kick as quickly as he possibly can#ENGvRSA
— Astie Bolton (@AstieBolton) November 26, 2022
Etzebeth had a knee on the ground when he picked that up. No try. Pen England #ENGvRSA
— Ian Graham (@irgWR11) November 26, 2022
England very poor today, and against a depleted SA team. But surely Etzebeth played the ball in the ground for his try? He was on his arse when he took possession.
— Seamus dot (@J_eastbay) November 26, 2022
— Ar Dee (@0327Rob) November 26, 2022
Arendes was guilty of obstructing the England Fullback. Have a look at the replay. It looked pretty obvious, I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t picked up. The Etzebeth try was also a shambles. He was off his feet when he played the ball, which he got from a knock on by De Klerk.
— Alastair (@akinnear124) November 26, 2022
Frankly thought Gardner was awful as usual. Scrums were a shocking mess. England should’ve seen about 3 yellow cards by my count and in the same breath Etzebeth’s try shouldn’t have stood, but Boks should’ve had pen advantage for not rolling and killing the ball anyway.
— Rugbedia (@rugbedia) November 27, 2022
— Ross B (@Rossinio) November 26, 2022
Gently surprised Arendse’s block on Steward not looked at. Fell squarely in the “he knows what he’s doing” category for me, Jim.
— Nick Heath (@nickheathsport) November 26, 2022
Etzebeth’s score was the second try of the match by the Springboks that came under the spotlight after suggests of an obstruction in the lead up to Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try.
The luck flowed the Springboks way in the week after Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was banned for two matches after posting on social media about calls that went against South Africa in their losses to Ireland and France.
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber hailed it a ‘very special’ occasion after winning at Twickenham for the first time, and ending a losing run that extended back to 2014.
“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it’s very special to us,” said head coach Jacques Nienaber.
“The forwards were outstanding and created a good platform for our backs to attack, so all-in-all, it was a fantastic team effort.”
Captain Siya Kolisi was equally delighted to get the result for a ‘special’ group of players.
“Sometimes we take it for granted what a special environment one is in and the great coaching team we have,” said Kolisi.
“When we got together with most of this coaching team in 2018, we all bought into the plans and the synergy and the way we work together is really special in this group.”