Ref injury sparks rule debate – but replay inevitable

SELKIRK will have to replay their abandoned National League tie against Biggar unless the Hartreemill club agrees to allow the result to stand, writes Fiona Scott.

Which, at the time of going to print, was not looking likely, despite Biggar officials intimating that very outcome following the premature stoppage of last weekend’s match.

Play at Philiphaugh was stopped after 49 minutes because of an injury to referee David Proctor, with the hosts leading 30-0. And a lack of understanding of the rules resulted in an animated debate being held at the side of the pitch.

Referee assessor Martin Hawthorn was also drawn into the discussion, the main point of which was whether or not either of the assistant referees could take over. It was eventually agreed by all that the game be abandoned and a decision on the outcome left to Scottish Rugby’s championship committee.

But, according to Selkirk’s director of rugby, Dennis Henderson, Biggar officials stated at the time, in the presence of the match officials, that they would allow the result to stand.

He told TheSouthern: “It was an unfortunate incident, especially for us as we were well in control and had the bonus point in the bag. At the end of the day rules are rules and you need to have them there. You can’t argue with that.

“Biggar did say at the time that they would be in agreement to letting the result stand and if that were the case then the championship committee would accept that.”

However, when Henderson contacted Biggar on Monday to ask if they would stand by their statement, the club said they would have to have a meeting about it. At the time of going to print no meeting had yet been held.

Biggar secretary Ian Conn told us: “A lot of things were said in the heat of the moment on Saturday, mostly by the Selkirk crowd who, understandably frustrated, even suggested that it was our fault the referee got injured.

“Once the decision was made it was a really amicable afternoon. We will still be meeting to discuss the issue, but because we are now clear on the ruling, then I expect the game will be replayed.”

A Scottish Rugby spokesman said: “Neither of the two gentlemen running the line at Selkirk, Mossez Wright and Andrew Laing, could take control of the match following the injury because in the RBS National League no reserve referee is appointed from Scottish Rugby’s panel of referees. Therefore, both assistant referees, in this instance and for all RBS National League games, are appointed from the national assistant referee panel and are not qualified to referee these matches.

“It’s important to note the difference between a club touch judge and assistant referee as the assistant referee can perform more functions, including the reporting of foul play.”

National Competition Rule (4.2), states: “When a match is abandoned before 60 minutes of play, the match will be replayed.”

This weekend Selkirk face Stewart’s Melville at Inverleith, Hawick meet Jed-Forest at Mansfield Park, while Kelso travel to play Biggar. At the Greenyards Melrose take on Llandovery, while Gala face a trip to Llanelli in the British & Irish Cup.