World rugby admits TMO Tom Foley made crucial mistake in final

Tom Foley

This article was last updated on November 15, 2023

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Smith’s disallowed try occurred in the 54th minute of the tense final at the Stade de France in Paris, following a brilliant break by Richie Mo’unga.

All Black Aaron Smith scores a try that was disallowed during the Rugby World Cup final.

It was called back when TMO Tom Foley spotted a knock-on at a lineout, and referee Wayne Barnes then disallowed the try.

However, the knock-on happened four phases before the Smith try, despite the TMO only having the power to look back two phases for any knock-on in the buildup to a try.

World Rugby updated this TMO protocol in the middle of 2022, issuing a release that stated that TMO referrals were possible for “all clear and obvious knock-on or throw forward infringements within two phases leading to a possible try”.

Four minutes after the try was ruled out, Beauden Barrett scored for the All Blacks, although in a less advantageous position for Mo’unga’s conversion attempt.

Mo’unga missed that kick – which would have put the All Blacks in the lead, and Jordie Barrett was also off target from a later penalty kick attempt.

The Rugby World Cup final was full of flashpoint moments, including the red card to All Blacks captain Sam Cane and the yellow card to Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.

Eyebrows were also raised when Springboks halfback Faf de Klerk was not penalised for refusing to put the ball into the scrum because his side was under pressure late in the second half.

However, where these incidents are ultimately a matter of interpretation, the Smith ‘no-try’ incident frustrated the All Blacks because it was clearly in breach of World Rugby’s own rules.

The incident also highlights the amount of control over rugby games that has effectively been passed from referees to video officials.

Departed All Blacks coach Ian Foster stated,

“We’ve got to have perspective about this,” Foster said. “It’s a tough game to referee.

“There is a lot of pressure on. Wayne is a quality person and has been a quality referee for a long, long time. I didn’t agree with a number of his decisions last night but that doesn’t change the fact he’s a quality person and quality ref

“We’ve got to own what we own. I think if you look at the issues in the game, many of them were outside of his control.”

Too many cooks in the kitchen has never been so true.”

World rugby has really got to make some changes, especially with the TMO interfering in the game all the time. 

Something has to be sorted out for the future of the game.

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