The final play of the USA 7s semifinal match between America and Argentina was bungled, so it is refreshing to know that authorities have taken the matter to heart.
My favorite newsletter, the authoritative Pelican's Beak, is worth quoting at length:
This was fairly straightforward. There were twelve seconds left went Argentina took the restart kick. It went directly into touch. The ref and the assistant ref stood there looking at each other until the twelve seconds expired and the horn sounded. Then the ref blew full time.
All we can possibly imagine is that both of them were waiting for the other to tell them what just happened. There were about ten thousand fans in a position to SEE exactly what had just happened, any of whom could have told them: it’s a free kick to the USA at the center.
But that’s not what happened and explanations are of course meaningless after something like this transpires. It’s just a fact. A chance to help cement the game into the American consciousness was denied – presumably if we’d won the tournament it would have made the mainstream news. But, no. Just another anonymous event on a weekend that included Daytona and Pebble Beach.
Even the world's best referees make mistakes. The question is how the participants overcome them?
On the far side of the field, I could not clearly see the ball's landing or a TV replay monitor, and so watched the US players' body language. At first they were stunned. After 20 to 30 seconds, they shook hands with the Pumas and dejectedly trooped off the pitch. I took that to mean: 'That sucked. We won't let it happen again. Can't wait for Dubai.'
As to the zebras, the same fellow who missed the sideline call on Sunday fluffed the tournament-winning conversion of the national club 7s final last summer, while the fellow who authors the Pelican's Beak is head of USA Rugby's referee committee.
Referees are to be thanked for their services to the game, the more so when they clearly understand the stakes, as demonstrated above. One therefore trusts the issue will addressed with due purpose and speed.
In the past two days we have observed that the 7s Eagles are good and the refs are accountable. Check back tomorrow to see if Gainline.us has been taken over by aliens!