Wales have been told by World Rugby that Gareth Anscombe’s disallowed try in the defeat by England last Saturday should have been given, even though the controversial decision was referred to the television match official [TMO], assistant coach Rob Howley has revealed.
Head coach Warren Gatland was furious with the decision, and after the match he claimed that the TMO had “made a terrible mistake” in claiming that Anscombe had not grounded the ball for a try in the 24th minute of the match. Anscombe looked to have beaten England wing Anthony Watson to the loose ball and touched it down with his left hand, only for referee Jerome Garces to refer the decision to TMO Glenn Newman.
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After reviewing two replays of the incident, Newman decided that there was not enough evidence to award a try, with the game restarting with an English 22m drop-out.
Speaking on Tuesday, Howley said that Gatland has spoken with Alain Rolland, the former international referee who now acts as World Rugby’s high performance 15s match officials’ manager, and he has told the Wales coach that the try should have been given.
"I know Warren Gatland spoke to Alain Rolland, and they confirmed that the TMO made a mistake,” he said.
When asked about Howley’s claim, a World Rugby spokesman said: “World Rugby has clarified to the Wales team management as part of the usual review process with teams that the TMO made an error in the application of law during the England versus Wales match at Twickenham. In accordance with law 21.1 b Wales should have been awarded a try as the Wales player grounded the ball”
At the time of the TMO review, Wales were losing 12-0 and still had a penalty advantage that they took to reduce the lead to nine points as Rhys Patchell landed a successful kick at goal. But Gatland was adamant afterwards that even though the additional four points that would have come with a converted try wouldn’t have overturned the final 12-6 scoreline, it would have had some sort of impact on the remainder of the game.
"It was good to have dialogue with World Rugby,” Howley added. “That phone call took place - I think it was yesterday - and Alain Rolland confirmed on behalf of World Rugby that the TMO made a mistake.
"It's happened. It is disappointing that happens in professional sport, but we focus on the next two weeks and getting ourselves ready for Ireland.
"There was plenty of time after that decision. We had a couple of opportunities which we should have taken."
The confirmation will not ease the anger among Welsh fans who believed that there was enough evidence in the two replays that were reviewed to award the try, with Wales’ Grand Slam hopes ending as a result of the narrow defeat. The 2013 and 2014 Six Nations champions can still win the championship, but need both England and Ireland to lose a game between now and the end of the tournament and ensure that they have a superior bonus point haul than them – or a greater points difference if two or more teams finish level.
There was mixed news for Wales on Tuesday as three internationals committed their future to both the Scarlets and the national team, with scrum-half Gareth Davies, centre Jonathan Davies and lock Jake Ball all agreeing new National Dual Contracts to remain with the reigning Pro12 champions.
But the bad news came in that Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being ruled out for up to six weeks, having suffered a knee injury that requires surgery in training last weekend.