Tuesday 30 March 2021


The TMO (Television Match Official) in rugby, according to John Jeffrey, is part of the match official team, with technology making sure that correct decisions are made, “to protect the integrity of the game.”

Is the TMO the best means for doing that, or is Dr.Almond’s  ‘Judgement of Solomon’ method much more in keeping with sound rugby union principles ?

The first international rugby match between England and Scotland was staged at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh in March 1871. Scotland scored the only goal of the match early in the second half when they pushed a scrum back over the English try line and Angus Buchanan allegedly grounded the ball. Then, tries enabled sides to ‘try’ for a goal. Only goals counted.

The England team disputed the try’s legality, and a lengthy and heated debate ensued before the try was allowed to stand. There were no referees until the mid- 1870s so appeals were directed towards the umpires (who in later years became touch-judges). The umpire who awarded the try that day was Dr. Almond, the headmaster of Loretto School.

Dr. Almond later explained his wise judgement in allowing the score when he wrote “Let me make a confession. I do not know whether the decision which gave Scotland the try from which the winning goal was kicked was correct in fact. When an umpire is in doubt I think he is justified in deciding against the side which makes most noise. They are probably in the wrong”

Now, doesn’t that attitude of rewarding the team which makes less fuss fit very comfortably into our notion of protecting the games integrity – and without all these new-fangled bits of gadgetry too!

Posted in: CB Updates