Plumtree questions TV officials

2012-10-05 00:00

COACH John Plumtree has questioned the roles of the television match officials after a trigger-happy decision in the Sharks’ last Currie Cup outing almost cost his team the match and a possible home semi-final.

The Sharks had to play the final 10 minutes of a tense Currie Cup game against the Blue Bulls with 14 men after hooker Pieter Dixon was judged by the television match official (TMO) Johann Meuwesen to have been guilty of foul play.

As a result, Dixon was red-carded by referee Mark Lawrence and the Sharks had to withstand fierce pressure before finally winning 13-12 to remain in contention for a top two finish and a home semi-final.

It appeared a harsh decision as Dixon lost his footing and his flying boot caught Bulls flank Arno Botha in the face as he fell, but the slow motion replays convinced Meuwesen the hooker’s action deserved a red card. SA Rugby Union disciplinary officer Jannie Lubbe this week ruled that no further sanction was necessary.

Lubbe found that, on the balance of probability, the awarding of the red card was incorrect and that the contact was accidental rather than deliberate.

Lubbe also ruled that the red card should be removed from Dixon’s record and would not be considered should the player appear before a disciplinary committee again. Dixon has been included in the Sharks team to face Free State in Bloemfontein tomorrow, while Kyle Cooper will provide cover off the bench.

Plumtree, commenting on TMOs generally, said he was concerned that their constant involvement by referees was slowing the game down. The TMOs are now being asked to rule on forward passes, handling errors, off-sides and foul play.

“TMOs have a lot of influence and they are becoming almost as important as referees. They will have to be consistent, just like referees, and accountable, so if they don’t have a good game, they get shifted. And the same with assistant referees [touch judges].

“They have a big influence on the outcome. The heat was on the ref before, and the assistant referees to a lesser degree, but now TMOs are having a big say.”

The match in Bloemfontein follows the Test match in Soweto and kicks off at 7.10 pm with Jason Jaftha the referee.

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