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TMO was apparently not reviewing the flagged incident discussed by TV pundit Healey.
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TMO was apparently not reviewing the flagged incident discussed by TV pundit Healey.

The Rugby Football Union has announced a review of the incident that occurred on Saturday during the Saracens versus Harlequins game. The match officials apparently disregarded a potential case of foul play, citing television pundit Austin Healey as the first person to have noticed it.

During Saracens’ 52-7 win, commentator Austin Healey observed a potential foul against Owen Farrell by Stephan Lewies, the captain of Harlequins. He mentioned on the broadcast that it would be intriguing to analyze the exact location of Farrell’s presumed injury.

Rather than analyzing the video for any potential infractions, the television match official Stuart Terheege implied to referee Christophe Ridley that they must not allow the television coverage to affect their decisions.

The broadcast comments – “Yeah, mate, the problem I have got now is that it looks like Austin has instigated it, because we’re late, so I don’t want to talk about it, OK?” – were picked up by the officials’ ‘hot mic’ and would appear to contradict the official stance that TMOs do not hear TV commentary which could sway their decisions.

With Lewies already on a yellow card, the episode has also been highlighted by the player welfare pressure group Progressive Rugby. “Whatever the reason, it is clear a decision has been taken to ignore foul, reckless or dangerous play because of concern that it had been highlighted by a pundit,” said Professor John Fairclough on behalf of Progressive Rugby. “This is hugely concerning and a clear dereliction of a match official’s duty to ensure player safety. An explanation should be sought as a matter of urgency.”

Healey took to social media to express his belief that the situation could have been prevented. He stated that the TMO had a better record and suggested that an ego may have influenced the decision on the foul play. This comment was posted on X.

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The RFU stated that they would investigate the situation further. Their statement read, “The RFU regularly conducts reviews after all games, including Saracens v Harlequins.”

Source: theguardian.com