Clip 3 - 30 August 2017 - Law 22
Western Province try to run out of their 22 but their passing goes awry. The Cheetahs pounce and are bashing at the line. Prop Ox Nche picks up at the line and forces his way down despite the combines efforts of Chris van Zyl, Michael Hazner and Kurt Coleman to stop him.
The referee awards the try and the conversion is about to be taken when the referee hears his TMO, saying: "Check, check", which is code for I have seen a problem and it should be checked.
The referee says to the TMO: "You called a check-check."
The TMO says: "I just want to see the grounding again."
The referee says: "The onfield decision is a try.. You're looking at any other compelling evidence."
It is immediately evident that Nche dropped the ball as he was trying to ground it. It is clear that he was not holding the ball.
Law 22.1 Grounding the ball
There are two ways a player can ground the ball:
(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.
(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.
holding the ball.
The upshot was a scrum to Western Province instead of a try to the Cheetahs.
Why would the referee stop the conversion attempt?
The TMO protocol lays it down that such a check must happen before the conversion is taken:
2017 TMO Protocol
2. Potential infringement by the team touching the ball down in opposition in-goal2.1 If, after a team in possession of the ball has touched the ball down in their opponents’ in-goal area (including after a try is awarded and before the conversion is struck), any of the match officials (including the TMO) have a view that there was a potential infringement, within the list of offences (see 2.3) before the ball was carried into in-goal by the team that touched the ball down, they may suggest that the referee refers the matter to the TMO for review.
Nche's knock-on was so obvious that the referee would have had a clear view of it if only he had taken a couple of strides to be in a better position. His position in the field of play was blocked by the bodies of players of both teams.
Saved by the TMO - but needlessly.