Scotland would not have suffered a heart breaking Rugby World Cup loss to Australia if the referee at Rugby School in 1823 had spotted an obvious handball by William Webb Ellis, according to Scottish rugby great Gavin Hastings.
“The ref should have noticed something as blatant as Webb Ellis picking up the football and running with it. If he’d spotted it, he would have given Webb Ellis his marching orders, and rugby would never have been invented” fumed Hastings.
“You can’t tell me Scotland would have lost to Australia in rugby if rugby didn’t exist. We would have been playing football instead, and there is no way Scotland would lose to Australia at the FIFA World Cup as we wouldn’t have got through the qualifying stages.”
Hastings said if the ref was in any doubt as to whether Webb Ellis handled the ball, he should have referred it upstairs to the Television Match Official (TMO).
“Of course I know that television hadn’t been invented in 1823, but they could have just paused the game till 1925 when it was. That wouldn’t be much longer than a lot of TMO referrals in this World Cup.”