Rugby Referee column: Even with TMO’s, things get missed

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One of the key protocols for referees is to follow is the dictum of only ruling on what is clear and obvious on the pitch.

For your average, every day game of footy, without the benefit of assistant referees with radio communication to the main referee, this means if you can’t clearly observe an infringement on the field then play continues.

There may be a few moans and groans from players who think they have seen an infringement, but they normally get over it pretty quickly and get on with the game.
For the referee, guessing is fraught with danger and is to be avoided at all costs.

But for games such as the quarterfinals in Japan last weekend, there are Television Match Officials (the TMO) who have all the technology to ensure the correct decisions are made by referees.

So “clear and obvious” with the aid of a TMO should ensure absolute precision in refereeing decision making. Or does it?

Looking at the All Blacks match against Ireland, the first incident of note was the deliberate knock-on by the Irish winger Jacob Stockdale, which was a clear and obvious as the ball was knocked downwards, meaning there was no chance of him regathering.

I have seen yellow cards issued for the same infringement from a similar place on the field, but it did cost the Irish three points anyway.

Replays show the Kieran Read tackle without the ball shortly after halftime was clear and obvious, as was the shoulder charge into the ruck by the I

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