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TMO shambles needs sorting, says Saracens chief Griffiths after drama

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: June 02, 2014

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SARACENS 20 NORTHAMPTON 24 (AET)

Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths has called for a root and branch review of the Television Match Official "shambles" after Owen Farrell's controversial disallowed try in the Aviva Premiership final.

Northampton claimed their first-ever league title thanks to Alex Waller's dramatic last-gasp try in extra time, the Saints edging home 24-20.

It might have been a different story, though, had Farrell seen his try just past the hour mark stand.

Referee JP Doyle initially awarded the score before reversing the decision after the apparent interjection of TMO Graham Hughes.

Doyle was heard to ask Alex Goode "are you taking the conversion?" after awarding the try, before then referring the decision on the try.

"Most teams in the Premiership would say the protocol has become a shambles, it's almost make it up as you go along," said Griffiths.

"Some referees use the TMO as a kind of video operator, 'show me that again please', others take instruction, others take guidance.

"This sounds like sour grapes but it isn't, because this would be the case had that final try not been given.

"The TMO process is a shambles.

"It's something Premiership Rugby will have to look at, but the protocol needs to be clarified exactly what is meant to happen.

"The role of the TMO needs to be clarified: it's almost different with different referees and TMOs in different games.

"If you bring something into the game it's got to be decisive.

"I'm not going to say it cost us the title, but the protocol, for the good of the game, needs to be clarified.

"In the old days the referee would have looked at what happened and made an educated decision.

"Would that have been any better or worse than what happened?

"The TMO has got something to add in the sport, but how and when it's used has got to be clarified.

"It's not clear what the TMO says, who says it, when the referee's allowed to ask, when the TMO's allowed to ask, it just looks like a general hotch-potch."

Tries from Ben Foden and George Pisi for Saints and a reply from Marcelo Bosch for Saracens left the scores locked at 14-14 at full-time.

Charlie Hodgson landed two penalties to Myler's one in extra time, before Waller crashed home to seal Saints' victory.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder shrugged off the impact of the TMO rulings, suggesting tense finals will always throw up marginal calls, with luck ultimately evening out over time.

"I think in a close game like that you can always pick on one or two ifs and buts decisions, and we could look on one or two things where we didn't get the bounce of the ball either," he said.

"Alex Waller's score at the end was a clear try as soon as the ball went down – never in doubt!"

Captain Tom Wood admitted Northampton were proud to help Dylan Hartley complete his redemption after being sent off in last year's Premiership final. Hartley's red card helped Leicester claim a 31-17 victory last term, and dumped him out of the summer's British and Irish Lions tour.

Hartley returned from two months out with shoulder trouble to join the fray from the bench on Saturday, and strike last year's day to forget from his mind completely.

"This time last year we were so disappointed, and nobody took it harder than Dylan," said Wood on Hartley, who is now fit to fly out to New Zealand with England on Monday.

"He's been the life and soul of our group and does a lot of work behind the scenes.

"It's cruel on Ross McMillan who has done a great job in his absence, but when you've got quality like Dylan in the squad it does influence everybody.

"It's good to have him around the team."

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