Paddy O'Brien, the IRB's refereeing boss, has let referees know that they are to abide by protocols, including the protocol outlining the TMO's area of jurisdiction.
This follows the incident in the Tri-Nations Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday when a try was disallowed on the advice of the television match official because of a forward pass just before the goal-line.
The referee was George Clancy of Ireland, the TMO Johann Meuwesen of South Africa.
O'Brien said: "The referee and the television match official were operating outside our agreed protocol. That will be addressed with George [Clancy] in our review of the game. It was disappointing and will form part of our discussions when we next meet."
O'Brien also sent a memo to all the World Cup referees, of whom Clancy is one, telling them that they were to adhere to the protocol, telling them "there should not be any breach of protocol as there was on this occasion".
O'Brien said: "They [Clancy and Meuwesen] made a call they were not entitled to make. If that means referees miss a knock-on or something else in the lead-up to a try, then that's the way it is. This has all been talked about at the IRB level and that was the decision."
The relevant part of the protocol states: "The TMO must not be requested to provide information on players prior to the ball going into in-goal (except touch in the act of grounding the ball). The TMO must not be asked to assist in any other decision other than those listed."
The pass from Israel Dagg to Jimmy Cowan happened prior to the ball going into in-goal.
Both Clancy and Meuwesen were IRB appointments, made several months ago. Contrary to some suggestions, Meuwesen was an original appointment, not a replacement. He is on the IRB's 12-man panel of TMOs and was doing his 15th Test match in Port Elizabeth. He and Shaun Veldsman are specialised TMOs, the most experienced at their job in South Africa.
There have been some references that seem to seek to devalue Meuwesen's status and experience.
He was born in Namibia, went to university in South Africa and then taught in Namibia. He has been living and teaching in South Africa for 16 years now, which, presumably, why he was described as a 'local school teacher'. He had a good career as a referee with five Tests and just on 150 provincial matches. That he was a "local school teacher" is hardly relevant. TMOs tend to be local somethings or other as they need to work for a living. This week end the TMO will be a local accountant.
In the Tri-Nations - which is more widespread than the Six Nations and a lot more widespread than the World Cup will be - local TMOs were used. So when Australia played South Africa in Sydney a local accountant, Matt Goddard was the TMO. Garratt Williamson and Glen Jackson were the TMOs in New Zealand and Shaun Veldsman the TMO in Durban when the Wallabies played there. Goddard and Veldsman are among the four TMOs for the World Cup. Those appointed are Giulio De Santis (Italy), Matt Goddard (Australia), Graham Hughes (England), Shaun Veldsman (South Africa).
It is interesting to speculate on crowd reactions. They - and probably the referee while he awaited the TMO's advice - saw the forward pass on the big screen in the ground. They are unlikely to react in a friendly way.
But what if the boot was on the other foot - if Bryan Habana had passed forward to Fourie du Preez who went over for try - and then the TMO had advised that the pass had been forward and so no try was scored.
Forward passes are sensitive things. First of all they are more technically complex than people think but they are something people at rugby are familiar with and that spurs on righteous anger when one is missed. The whole of New Zealand was angry when Frédéric Michalak's forward pass went undetected in 2007.
Graham Henry comes out of all this with high praise for his gracious acceptance of the decision, and O'Brien, too, was gracious when he said that Clancy and Meuwesen had acted in good faith.
George Clancy referees in Ireland this weekend. His next Test is the opening of the 2011 Rugby World Cup - New Zealand vs Tonga.
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