Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup referee Jaco Peyper and TMO Shaun Veldsman savaged
AAP
September 19, 2015
Should the TMO system be changed?

South African referee Jaco Peyper and video official Shaun Veldsman have been savaged for their handling of the opening match of the Rugby World Cup between England and Fiji at Twickenham, with fans up in arms on social media as Peyper repeatedly deferred to his television match official.

From adjudicating on suspected fouls in the ruck to watching endless replays confirming tries to Fiji's Nemani Nadolo and the bonus-point-sealing effort from England's Billy Vunipola, Veldsman had a big input at Twickenham on Friday.

Wobbly England sneak bonus-point victory
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The constant referrals to the video official saw the first half drag out to 52 minutes, rather than the scheduled 40 minutes, and the match as a whole took nearly two hours.

Most controversially, on one of the few occasions Veldsman was required - for a would-be try to Fiji half-back Nikola Matawalu - he wasn't called uoon until after the try had been given.

Fiji's scrum-half Nikola Matawalu (C) loses control of the ball and fails to score a try © AFP/Getty Images
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The No.9 took the ball from the back of the scrum and looked to have given his side a major boost following a weaving 50-metre run and slide. Peyper awarded the five-pointer immediately, despite both himself and his touch judge having been left in the dust by the fleet-footed Matawalu, but he then interrupted the conversion and called on his TMO after replays shown on the big screens at Twickenham revealed the Fijian had dropped the ball over the line.

The try was correctly overturned, but the process enraged England's 2003 World Cup-winning duo Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Woodward.

"How far does it go? After he takes the conversion, and then it's on the screen - can you still go back," Wilkinson asked. "Can you go back at half-time? Will you review it at the end of the game and be able to change scores after?"

England 35-11 Fiji (video available in Australia only)
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Woodward, his coach at the 2003 World Cup, agreed.

"Once the referee has given the try, that's what you've got to go with," he said. "He's got to say 'sorry guys, I made a mistake'. It's a refereeing error [but] once you give it, you can't then go back. They shouldn't have changed it - even though the decision was right."

The controversy came only hours after New Zealand coach Steve Hansen New Zealand coach Steve Hansen had acknowledged that refereeing decisions could play a major part in the tournament.

"All we want is for them to be consistent," Hansen said of the officials. "We'll get our share of luck and our share of bad luck. How we use that luck and how we deal with the bad luck will determine how far we go into this tournament," he said. "The game is extremely difficult to ref ... they're going to miss some things and we've just got to deal with that. And they'll make mistakes just like I do as a coach and our players do as players and in the game we have just have to deal with it.

"But if they can be consistent, if that's offside today then that's offside for the whole game as an example, and if they do that then no one's got any complaints."

© AAP

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