The hugely controversial moment that might define the Premiership season
By Rugby Onslaught

The hugely controversial moment that might define the Premiership season

The top of the Gallagher Premiership table could have looked very different this morning after Sale Sharks’ win over Saracens at the AJ Bell on Sunday had a few things gone differently.

Sale came away with a bonus point victory, while Saracens came away with nothing, meaning the gap between the two at the top has been closed to six points.

But maybe the turning point in the match came on the stroke of half time with a Sam James try. Saracens were leading 19-7 at that point, but went in at half time 19-14 before Sale pulled away in the second half, which also included a red card to prop Robin Hislop.

The controversy in the match though concerns the legality of James’ try. James was put in for the try by Tom O’Flaherty, but the pass has been questioned by many people. The TMO deemed it ok, but replays have left the rest of the rugby world wondering whether it was forward or not. The ball definitely goes forward, but a lot of passes do with the momentum of the player. But even taking that into account as well, the ball seems to fly forward straight out of O’Flaherty’s hands.

Had the try been disallowed, Saracens would have been in a good position to close the game out in the second half. Even if they just came away with a win with no bonus points, and allowed Sale a losing bonus point, they would have had a 14 point lead at the top of the Premiership.

It is still likely that Saracens will finish the season at the top of the league, but a huge buffer would have allowed them to rest and rotate players, particularly with an eye on the Heineken Champions Cup. Instead, they will now have Sale breathing down their necks, which could change their season.

Take a look at the try:


Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall rued some decisions that did not go Saracens way after the match. He said: “We made a really positive start, played really well for the first 30 minutes and were firmly in control.

“The stadium was very quiet but then came the yellow card for Alex Goode and very quickly they scored easily and from then on we couldn’t get the momentum back.

“Some days you get the tight calls but today I didn’t think we did. I’m unsure about the yellow card for Alex and everybody in the stadium could see that there was a clear forward pass for their try just before half-time.

“We hung in there and produced a lot of fight and could have snatched it at the end but I’m disappointed to lose our bonus-point at the death.

“I’m very happy with this group as a whole as they’ve secured 24 points in the period when our internationals are away so they are responsible for putting us in this healthy position.

“We will have our internationals back and hopefully we will soon get the two points needed to guarantee us a home semi-final in the play-offs.”