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Goode's kick was good

Conversion revisited

In our most recent Law discussion we discussed a reader's comments about a conversion kick by Andy Goode of Leicester Tigers which was part of their scoring in their drawn match with the Newcastle Falcons. We are, with help, going to look at it again.

The reader's question and our comment is below, but it is what is below that that is really important. It comes from a wise man of Cheltenham and is a good lesson for all of us when we rush to judgement or believe the judgements of others too easily.

This is the quotation from the Law Discussion, all of which can be reached by clicking here:

4. Over to you

Reader: After watching Friday night's Leicester vs Newcastle match it makes me wonder why some referees and linesmen are paid for doing what they do. This is not the first time I have witnessed linesmen looking at each other before agreeing on a decision. How they both came to the conclusion that Andy Goode's conversion kick was over God only knows. What is more galling there does not seem to be any redress for their inappropriate actions. I understand that we all make mistakes but the rest of us have to pay for them. In this case Newcastle Falcons have paid for it with the loss of points and there is no way they can vent their disappointment. Surely in the age of the video official at premiership level these miscarriages of justice can be appealed and the result overturned? As in the case of citing can we not cite an official or his decision?

Comment: I think the matter of error has been addressed and so, too, the matter of payment. On the matter of others paying for mistakes, there are surely people in the world who from time to time have had to pay for all our mistakes, some bigger and some smaller. Parents, for example, know all about that.

It is common practice for touch judges to look at each other and raise flags in unison. It is neat and has a decisive air.

Would it help to "vent" disappointment?

I think there is redress for errors. There are people who watch the performances of referees and touch judges and do what they think is approximate. But just as it would be ridiculous to drop a player every time he made a mistake, the same would be true of match officials. Were a referee or touch judge to be dropped every time he made a mistake, we should, in a week or two, have no referees left!

Citing is for foul play, not error. And if you could cite for this perceived error, what difference would it make?

Perhaps it would be better to see where the touch judges (not linesmen, by the way) were standing. If each touch judge took a post, then it is easier to judge whether or not the ball is over. Have a look at how top touch judges postilion themselves. It's not a time for a chat somewhere in the middle of the posts.

The International Rugby Board has a protocol on the television match official and lays down areas of adjudication. The conversion and the penalty kick at goal do not fall within the TMO's score.


2.1  The areas of adjudication are limited to Law 6. 8 (b), 6.8 (d) and 6.8 (e) and therefore relate to:

– grounding of the ball for try and touch down
– Touch, touch-in-goal, ball being made dead during the act of grounding the ball.

This includes situations where a player may or may not have stepped in touch in the act of grounding the ball on or over the goal line.

The TMO could therefore be requested to assist the referee in making the following decisions:

No try and scrum awarded 5 metres
Touch down by a defender
In touch – line-out
Ball dead on or over the dead ball line
Penalty tries after acts of foul play in in-goal
Dropped goal.

Just another point: the referee has the right – and duty – to over-rule touch judges. It does not happen often, But there is not often a need for it to happen.

That's what was in the Law Discussion. Now come the comments from our wise man of Cheltenham, who was more careful:

First he writes:

On conversion kicks, I also checked the TMO protocol. What I did not check at first was the law:-

Law 6.A 7 (b) A match organiser may appoint an official who uses technological devices.
(d) The official may be consulted in relation to the success or otherwise of kicks at goal.

This would seem to allow the referee to call in the TMO for conversion kicks as well.

Watching the game live on TV, I thought the kick had gone over, but it is not easy to judge such things properly. The ball was below the height of the posts, so I find it very difficult to see how the touch judge got it wrong.

Then he wrote again:

I have just replayed the controversial conversion several times, and I now begin to believe the TV pundits were wrong, not the touch judges. The touch judge was standing right at the foot of the post, as he should. The principal TV shot is not at all clear. I could believe the ball passed either side of the upright. However later they showed that view, followed by another which appears to be from behind the posts, showing the ball clearly passing in front of a post.

In what follows, left and right posts, etc, are as seen from Goode's perspective. If the second shot was from the left of the posts and the post in view was the left hand post, then it was clear that the conversion missed. However right at the start of the clip, there is a very brief view of what I think is a second post. It is on the right hand side of the shot, which means it can only be the LEFT hand post. In other words, the post the ball passed in front of was the RIGHT hand post, and nobody was in any doubt about that.

It is very difficult to be sure without knowing the ground in great detail, because it is difficult to be sure where the second clip was taken from. All you get is the ball sailing through the air with a post in the background, plus that tantalising glimpse of another post at the beginning. From other shots of the game I could not see anything else it could have been – there are no lamp standards near, for example.

My conclusion is that the officials were right, and the commentators wrong. Not for the first time. TV pictures can be very misleading.


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