The Barbarians Rugby Club celebrated its 125th last year so theblitzdefence thought it would be remiss not to mention perhaps one of their most memorable contributions to the game of rugby.
Most people with even a passing interest in rugby will recognise this passage of play as The Greatest Try of all Time. It comes from the 1973 Barbarians v All Blacks game and involved a 90 metre break from the Barbarians own 22 culminating in Gareth Edwards scoring in the corner.
The commentary from the respected Cliff Morgan added to the sense of occasion…..
Morgan: Phil Bennett…Brilliant! Oh, that’s brilliant! John Williams, Bryan Williams, Pullin, John Dawes great dummy. To David, Tom David, the half-way line! Brilliant by Quinnell! This is Gareth Edwards! A dramatic start! What a score! Oh, that fellow Edwards!
Oh, no wait a minute….. hang on the referee wants to have a look at this. It’s going to the TMO.
Referee: Hello Alan [TMO] can you hear me?
TMO Alan: Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you? Can you hear me?
Referee: I can hear you but can you hear me? Hello? [fiddles with battery pack and ear piece for a minute]. Hello? Can you look at something for me?
TMO Alan: I can hear some of your words but will guess the bits I can’t hear. What shall I look at because I wasn’t really watching the game?
Referee: I want you to look at the final pass to Edwards – was it forward? Try or no try? Also go back 2 minutes, was there a high tackle on Barbarians number 15?
TMO Alan: Understood. [TMO watches 15 repeats of the forward pass from 7 different angles]. Hello? Hello? I have a decision for you.
Referee: ….er, right go then tell me…
TMO Alan: The ball comes out of the hands in a backwards direction, then moves forwards but the hands are facing backwards at all times. The fingers are also pointing backwards if that matters? The player’s socks are green and the moon is in the waxing phase.
Referee: Er, OK…so what is your recommendation? I am looking at a screen about 80 metres away but am happy to guess based on these grainy pictures if it gets me more air time? Hello? What is your recommendation?
TMO Alan: Hello? You want a recommendation from me? There is a reason I am a TMO and not a referee so er, um my recommendation is to go with your decision and not to cause too much controversy….
Referee: OK. I can barely see the screen but it looks like a forward pass so no try.
[The Welsh controlled big screen now shows another high tackle on the Welshman JPR Williams. The mostly Welsh fans react angrily through the haze of dry ice from the pre-match entertainment. Some of them even put down their pints to remonstrate with the referee]
Referee: Er, I can see another incident on the big screen. Is this another high tackle on Barbarians 15? Can you look at this. Potential foul play.
TMO Alan: I have 24 angles of this so it may take some time. [7 minutes later the TMO has completed his reviews and the crowd has taken up knitting to fill the time]…….Hello. I have a recommendation.
Referee: What is your recommendation?
TMO Alan: The tackle starts around the waist, moves up to the shoulders and his elbow does brush his face. I recommend a red card. [TMO consults the latest IRB communication to work out if this is the latest directive he is applying or last month’s]
Referee: [The referee’s battery pack has now given up so he has to stand on the side line and phone the TMO using the water boy’s mobile phone which is on a pay as you go contract so he is understandably concerned his free minutes are being used up] OK, so a red card. My recommendation is also a red card because I have to stay in Cardiff tonight. If it is the wrong decision the disciplinary committee will overturn it so no worries.
So a red card? Who is the red card for?
TMO Alan: Yes, a red card. Who is it for?
Referee: That is what I asked you! Who is it for? Who am I giving the red card to?
TMO Alan: You want my recommendation? I cannot conclusively see from the pictures which number it is so I will say it is inconclusive and therefore my recommendation is also inconclusive. I can only see the offender’s shirt, face and most of his number but it is inconclusive. Conclusively inconclusive.
Referee: …er, OK. I will give a general team warning and tell them to stop.
…er, so, where were we? I will disallow the try and give a penalty to the Barbarians 20 metres out and give a 5 minute lecture to the All Blacks captain about dangerous play and some other stern words I can come up with in the next minute or two.
TMO Alan: That is also my recommendation.
[15 minutes after Gareth Edwards put the ball over the line the referee gives a penalty to the Barbarians on the 22, forgets about the initial high tackle and disallows The Greatest Try of all Time.
The crowd file out and head home never to talk about the day they saw The Greatest Try of all Time]
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