Scotland boss Gregor Townsend fumes at TMO Six Nations drama - 'we believe it was a try'

The Scotland head coach was left in no doubt that his team scored winner against France

Gregor Townsend vented his frustration at the late, late decision which cost Scotland a precious Six Nations victory over France at Murrayfield.

Sam Skinner, on as a replacement for the home side, crossed in the final seconds and appeared to have grounded the ball for what would have been the match-winning try. During a lengthy consultation between match referee Nic Berry and television match official Brian MacNeice it looked initially as if a try would be awarded. MacNeice could be heard telling Berry: “Nic, there is the ball on the ground.” But after various angles were shown on the big screens, the referee said: “There is no conclusive evidence to overturn my original decision.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Townsend said he couldn’t understand the “rationale” which saw no try awarded and France winning the match 20-16. He said the TMO changed the referee’s mind. “We were celebrating in the coaches’ box having seen the pictures of the ball being placed down on the tryline after having been on the player’s boot,” said the Scotland coach. “That was also after hearing the communication to the referee from the TMO to say that the ball started on the foot and then went on the ground.

Referee Nic Berry signals that the ball is held up as Sam Skinner of Scotland (obscured) attempts to score a try against France.Referee Nic Berry signals that the ball is held up as Sam Skinner of Scotland (obscured) attempts to score a try against France.
Referee Nic Berry signals that the ball is held up as Sam Skinner of Scotland (obscured) attempts to score a try against France.

“The ref then says, ‘I can also see that on the ground’ then their last interaction was ‘hang on, let’s look at that other angle … yeah it’s inconclusive now, stick with your on-field decision’. It was TMO-driven. If the referee is seeing the pictures we were all seeing in the stadium, maybe it’s on his shoulders as well to say, ‘that’s the ball down, that’s a try’. But the TMO was the one who changed his mind and said, ‘stick with your on-field decision.’

“I don’t understand the rationale. When you see the pictures, and when you also see the conversation, they have already said between them that the ball has been placed on the tryline.”

Townsend felt Scotland had controlled a match they led from the seventh until the 72nd minute. An early try from Ben White and 11 points from the boot of Finn Russell had them 16-10 ahead midway through the second half. But Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s converted try and a penalty from Thomas Ramos saw France edge ahead before the dramatic finale.

Asked at the post-match press conference if he felt the officials had done their job properly, Townsend said: “I’ll leave that to you guys to decide. All I can say is that we were celebrating a win, our players and a lot of our supporters were by the pictures we saw. We could hear the conversations. Gavin Hastings was in front of us, and the media were turning round a few times as well to ask, and I’m saying, ‘yeah, it’s a try’.”

The coach added: “I’m absolutely gutted for the players. The way the game was going in the second half, I didn’t think there would be any points scored at one stage - we were in control. The long kicking strategy with players in front of the ball, that wasn’t leading to any problems. We were actually getting errors from them, we were six points ahead and it looked comfortable. But we did make an error that led to a scrum that led to a try. At the time, I thought it was going to be really difficult to score the required five points.

“It was a fantastic effort to win the ball back, for Kyle Rowe to make his break and for Finn to win the ball back and set us up on the tryline. The emotions straight after that when I saw the pictures were, ‘what a fantastic win, what a team to come back. To play so well, go behind and come back, what a great victory for our supporters’ then it’s taken away from you.”