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Saracens 20-24 Northampton Saints
Saracens chief slams TMO protocols
ESPN Staff
May 31, 2014
Owen Farrell celebrates the try that never was © Getty Images
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Saracens chief Edward Griffiths has lashed out at the current protocols regarding the Television Match Official labelling them a "shambles".

The Saints beat Saracens 24-20 but needed extra-time to secure the victory. It might have been a different story, though, had Owen 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.

A dejected Brad Barritt , Saracens v Northampton Saints, Aviva Premiership final, Twickenham, May 31, 2014
A dejected Brad Barritt at the final whistle © Getty Images
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"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."

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. "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 and his leadership coming off the bench, it certainly helped myself out. I'm pleased for Dylan he's managed to experience that after last year, and get that off his back a little bit."

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall confirmed injury worries to Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola are not thought to jeopardise their England tour to New Zealand. Farrell suffered cramp with number eight Vunipola picking up an ankle knock, but McCall expects both to join up with England on Monday.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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