As a rugby referee, you probably dread having to make a call, after the hooter, that could potentially decide the test match.
Whether or not you think the Springboks deserved a penalty (we’ll get to that in a bit), we only really have ourselves to blame, butchering try-scoring chances, squandering possession and lacking the clinical touch that saw us finish strongly in the final few Rugby Championship matches.
OK, so that ‘tackle’ by Owen Farrell.
With England leading 12-11, time up on the clock and the Boks in possession, Andre Esterhuizen was flattened by the English flyhalf. Ozzie referee Angus Gardner, in consultation with the TMO, Ireland’s Olly Holmes, decided the hit was fair, and that secured victory by the narrowest of margins.
Here’s the dramatic ending to the Twickenham test:
As you can imagine, if you went by the reaction on South African social media, it was most certainly an illegal tackle. The Boks would still have had to slot the kick, but one can’t help but feel that Gardner’s decision robbed us of a win.
Before we get to social media, let’s see what Nick Mallett and the SuperSport in-studio team had to say:
WATCH: Nick Mallett and the panel discuss the decision made by referee Angus Gardner in the final minute of the match as the Springboks suffered a 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham pic.twitter.com/7QcRybDT7m
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) November 3, 2018
Right, to Twitter we go:
As has become standard these days, somebody headed to Wikipedia to make some changes:
The entry has since been edited out, but the screenshot remains.
Still, there were those who felt the tackle was fair:
Farrell has since escaped being cited, with the Guardian reporting:
Owen Farrell has been cleared to face New Zealand on Saturday after escaping punishment for his controversial tackle in England’s dramatic victory over South Africa…
World Rugby confirmed on Sunday night Farrell has not been cited for his tackle on André Esterhuizen in the dying moments of England’s 12-11 victory as it did not meet the red card threshold in the eyes of the citing commissioner, Keith Brown. Farrell has also escaped a citing commissioner’s warning – a sanction for offences deemed to be between a yellow and a red card…
South Africa were believed to be privately livid with Gardner’s decision but, while it was precisely the kind of upright tackle World Rugby are attempting to outlaw, the absence of any contact with Esterhuizen’s head has worked in Farrell’s favour as a citing is only made if the incident is deemed worthy of a red card. It is not incumbent on the citing commissioner to determine whether a penalty alone was merited or not.
As somebody asked on Twitter, what would the TMO have done if this was a Pacific Islander making the hit, or if the match wasn’t being played in front of a rowdy English crowd?
I guess we’ll never know.
Finally, if the Boks want to win their three remaining tests on the European tour, maybe these chaps could give Malcolm Marx a talking to about his throwing in at the line-outs?
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