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Should rugby consider changing rules to prevent repeat of Scotland debacle?

Scottish players appealed to referee Craig Joubert to change his decision Credit: PA

If you’re Scottish, Craig Joubert’s mistake will live deep within you for a long time.

If you’re not Scottish and want to understand the pain - think back to the day your heart was broken for the first time. You’re desperate to turn the clock back for a second chance; you are overtaken by frustration and flashbacks and you obsess over a catalogue of ‘if onlys’ and ‘what ifs?’

In the end the aching disappears, you learn from your experience and move on armed with a little more wisdom.

Scotland's Greig Laidlaw and John Hardie, along with their teammates, were left dejected by the referees decision Credit: PA

The question hanging in the Twickenham air though, is should rugby react to the Scot’s misfortune to avoid some ghastly repetition? And if yes, how?

We haven’t heard from Joubert yet but I’m pretty sure he would have loved a second look, just to reassure himself he wasn’t making a career defining cock-up. But as we all know now, he couldn’t – the protocol doesn’t allow it. The Television Match Official can only be engaged for suspected foul play or to determine whether a try is legitimate or not.

Joubert knew how important the call was, so why didn’t he have the courage to rip up the protocol and ask for a video replay anyway?

Well, to make that decision in a split second, in front of 80 thousand screaming fans, knowing tens of millions more worldwide are watching you and knowing if you did, it would probably end your career – would have been beyond brave.

Referee Craig Joubert had to make his decision in a split second Credit: Reuters / Stefan Wermuth

If he’d made the mistake in the 25th minute of the first half, we wouldn’t be discussing this now. So how about a new rule, relaxing the protocol? Should the lawmakers decide that in the last five minutes of any game, the referee has the authority to call for a video replay if he wants to, to help with any decision?

In future that would mitigate against the Scots heartache and the understandable but misguided rage towards Joubert.

The problem with that though is manifold; not least the question - when does the critical part of the end of a match begin? Two minutes to go? Three even or is it more like 10 minutes?

Also Rugby is a game that is very conscious of its stop-start reputation and wants to put on a free flowing spectacle to help attract new players and new fans.

And then of course there is the argument that we invest our emotions in live sport because it has the capacity to take us to some indescribably happy places.

The corollary of that of course is heartache – something Scottish rugby fans know all about right now.