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Jake White coy about Madosh Tambwe’s disallowed try against Edinburgh

Bulls' Madosh Tambwe was denied a try against Edinburgh. Picture: Backpagepix

Bulls' Madosh Tambwe was denied a try against Edinburgh. Picture: Backpagepix

Published Oct 17, 2021


Cape Town – Jake White was reluctant to get into a debate about Madosh Tambwe’s disallowed try in the Bulls’ 17-10 United Rugby Championship defeat to Edinburgh on Saturday night, saying that “it makes no difference to whether I think it’s a try”.

With less than five minutes left, Morné Steyn’s cross-kick went straight into Tambwe’s hands, and the Bulls No 14 danced past the first defender before striding into the Edinburgh 22.

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He was brought down five metres short of the tryline by Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham, who desperately held on to Tambwe’s jersey as both players slid towards the line on the wet surface at DAM Health Stadium.

Tambwe then lifted his upper body and stretched out to dot the ball over the line, and it looked like the Bulls had completed a remarkable comeback from 14-3 down to have a chance of drawing the match 17-17.

But Welsh referee Ben Whitehouse immediately called time off, and told TMO Sean Brickell that his on-field decision was no try. Whitehouse wanted to check if Tambwe had made a double movement, and added that the grounding was “suspect as well”.

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Following a number of TV replays, Whitehouse decided that it was indeed a double movement, and he awarded a penalty to Edinburgh. Perhaps the mistake that the officials made was to watch the replays in slow-motion instead of real-time, and that made Whitehouse feel that Tambwe had propelled himself forward off his right knee and arm.

It was a tight call, whichever way you look at it – Bulls fans would probably say it was a try, and Edinburgh supporters the opposite.

“It doesn’t matter what I think – the reality is, it wasn’t given. It is what it is, and I obviously would’ve liked it to be a try,” White said in the post-match press conference.

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“It’s difficult on a 4G pitch, when the rain’s coming down, for him not to slide and in one motion, put the ball down. But as I said, it makes no difference to whether I think it’s a try.”

The Bulls didn’t give up trying to find a late touchdown, and took the ball through a number of phases in the last movement of the game before Steyn searched for Tambwe again with another cross-kick.

It didn’t work this time, with the last Edinburgh defender claiming possession. Tambwe made the tackle and contested the breakdown, but was unlucky to be penalised by Whitehouse for going off his feet, as the Bulls could easily have received the penalty as well.

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Whitehouse penalised the visitors heavily at the breakdowns in the first half too, which saw Edinburgh flyhalf Jaco van der Walt slot three penalties through the uprights to set up a 14-3 lead.

“We dropped the kickoff after we scored the try (through captain Marcell Coetzee in the 70th minute), and put them back into the game. So, it’s no use looking at those things (refereeing decisions),” White said.

“There are a lot of things that we need to look at. One thing for certain is that we can’t always at halftime be 14-3 or 16-3 (behind), and keep fighting back to win – although I must say I’m really proud that we were, literally up to the last play, still in the game, which is credit to the guys that came on.

“When it comes to fighting spirit, I’m very happy that the guys never gave up.”