Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Tyrone Howe: Laws must change to help refs to get big calls right

It is hard not to feel sorry for Scotland coach, Andy Robinson. His side’s self-destruction gifted England victory in the opening fixture and two yellow cards within minutes against Wales handed the opportunity to Warren Gatland’s men to build up a winning lead that never really looked like being overcome.

What must be frustrating is that all the statistics suggest Scotland are a lot better than this. Unquestionably their execution has been abysmal but Robinson will be smarting at the fact that refereeing decisions have also played a contributing role.

Replays clearly showed that Stuart Hogg did not knock the ball on just short of the tryline. Under current laws, the referee cannot call the TMO to rule on this matter.

The technology is there, the players are battering themselves to get close to the whitewash and you have got to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to officiating. Once again, the laws have been found to be out of step with the game. Such a decision is too important, it has too much of an effect on the outcome of a game. The laws must be changed to reflect this and empower the referee further.

Of course, even with the technology there is still no guarantee that the right decision will be reached. The TMO ruled against Greig Laidlaw’s try against England, which I believed showed sufficient downward pressure.

Hopefully his try in the closing stages on Sunday has finally shed the pressures of the try-famine and sparks a mini-revival. The Six Nations needs a fully functioning Scotland.

The missed chances and sin binnings are aspects that a coach and players can work on. Poor refereeing is beyond your control. So far the Six Nations has been dominated by quality Welsh play and poor refereeing. One hopes that the rest of the tournament will lose the latter of these two features.

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