Bryan Keane/INPHO Referee Andrew Brace assesses a captain's challenge.
# Challenge
'The trial hasn't worked. I don't think it's going to feature beyond the Rainbow Cup'
Munster had a successful captain’s challenge at the death against Cardiff Blues.

THE CAPTAIN’S CHALLENGE trial in the Rainbow Cup has thrown up plenty of talking points but it hasn’t been universally popular.

In fact, after four rounds, there are widespread calls for the trial to end with the conclusion of this competition.

The captain’s challenge has been discussed regularly by Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella on The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – an analysis podcast available to members of The42 every Monday – and today’s episode saw the theme continue.

A question from Conor in the rugby WhatsApp group for members of The42 about Munster’s use of the challenge against Cardiff Blues sparked this week’s debate.

Eoin: “I completely agree with Conor. I think materiality is the key there, isn’t it? If there’s a glaringly obvious miss from the officials in the lead-up to a try, I think it’s fair enough to go to a challenge of some sort.

“But for what it was – it wasn’t even an obvious free-kick. Was the ball definitely out? I could see the right foot was potentially keeping the ball from being out of the ruck and I know Olly Hodges (the TMO) was trying to intimate to Andrew Brace (the referee) whether he was definitely 100% sure the ball was out.

“It was such a small, technical offence. It would have been a dramatic finish because Cardiff had done so well to get field position and Munster would have been nervous to defend the penalty. 

“Human error is a part of sport and the unpredictability of sport is something we love. Look, definitely use the technology when it’s in the act of try-scoring where it was clearly awarded in error.

“For the small, technical offences that we saw, I would completely disagree with using it.”

Murray: “I’m not even sure if this was a legit challenge. We have another question from David Cunningham asking if it should have been allowed and that was my thinking on it at the time.

“So the challenge comes in and I thought it must be at that exact ruck where Brace has given the penalty because you can query a decision but you can’t actually challenge a non-decision, as we’ve seen before with Munster [against Leinster].

cj-stander-with-muster-head-coach-johann-van-graan-after-his-last-game-for-the-province Morgan Treacy / INPHO Munster had two successful challenges on Friday night. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“The incident was two or three rucks before Brace has made the decision. The protocols say you can’t challenge a non-decision where the referee doesn’t actually whistle and play continues. It didn’t lead to any try or foul play.

“Also the fact it came from the stand. If you watch it back, the moment happens live in the match and not a single player reacts. The Munster lads are all staring at it and no one says a thing. Brace is in the vicinity looking at the offside line and clearly no one notices.

“You hear the challenge come in and one of the assistant referees is saying Munster have a specific timestamp for their challenge and you’re thinking that obviously none of the players would have been aware of that either.

“Do we really want a member of the coaching staff sitting there poring over the footage with a five-second delay, trying to find anything at the end of a game? I don’t know, it just feels messy to me.

Eoin: “This is a variation put into trial in some competitions before being implemented in a global context, so you can applaud World Rugby for trialling certain things.

“There have been sections of the rugby fraternity who have called for some form of challenge.

“The trial hasn’t worked and I don’t think it’s going to feature beyond the Rainbow Cup, if I’m being honest.”

This week’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra includes Eoin’s analysis of a mixed performance from Munster, while the lads also discussed Connacht’s disappointing showing against Benetton, who remain in the title hunt.

Eoin filled us in on the latest events in Super Rugby, where there was finally an Australian win, and answered an interesting question on teams kicking the ball on penalty advantage.

You can sign up as a member of The42 here in order to listen to the extra rugby podcasts and a wide range of other shows on sportswriting, football, GAA, and coaching, as well as getting weekly newsletters and access to our lively member-only Whatsapp groups. 

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel