Ever since time-keeping in rugby union was taken off the referee and put into the hands of someone on the touchline some matches have inevitably ended in an unsatisfactory manner.
At the end of Wales’s victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last season why did referee Glen Jackson waste seconds at the end by trying to hear via his earpiece how many seconds were left on the clock after Finn Russell’s conversion had reduced the home side’s deficit to three points.
When Russell’s conversion went over there were some seven seconds remaining, which would have been eaten up by the time Wales reached the halfway line. Jackson blew for full time, much to the disgust of Scotland who felt there was time for the restart.
Rugby union uses the countdown clock, which gives players, spectators and the television audience certainty – most of the time. Football uses a different method, one which keeps the referee in charge of time by declaring what the minimum period for stoppages will be. (Plus of course any “Fergie Time”.). That would be harder in rugby because some halves go 10 or more minutes over the 40; a minimum of five or six could easily swell to nine or ten with more stoppages – generating confusion rather than clarity.
Time-keeping has developed in the professional era so that, for example, when scrums keep dropping and the referee feels the need to have a word with the front rows, the clock stops; the same when players are replaced.
Yet it keeps ticking when a kicker is lining up a conversion even though the ball is, to all intents and purposes,dead;all the opposition can do is try to charge it down but they cannot take possession. Why does the clock not stop when a try has been scored? There were nine tries in the England /Scotland match last March, which effectively meant some nine minutes were eaten up by conversion attempts.
Once a try is scored the ball is dead and the clock should be stopped until the restart is taken.