Players and fans outraged by no-try decision that led to Glasgow win over Lions

South African teams have highlighted several refereeing discrepancies as they bed into the United Rugby Championship, with the Sigma Lions being the latest to fall afoul of a poor decision.

The Johannesburg outfit suffered a nail-biting 13-9 defeat to Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday, where loosehead prop Jamie Bhatti scored the only try after less than three minutes.

Fly-half Ross Thompson kicked the hosts to touch before the Warriors went to work in the maul, rolling infield before Bhatti touched down under the posts to give Glasgow their dream start.

Or at least fans were led to believe, as referee Gianluca Gnecchi didn't feel the need to consult his television match official (TMO) before raising his arm in approval.

That was until Ireland hooker turned coach Bernard Jackman shared footage of the 'try' in question, which appeared to confirm Bhatti failed to get the ball over the line at all:

Former Dragons and Grenoble boss Jackman came down hard on the decision to approve the score and posted numerous eye emojis with the response: "Hard to see how this try was awarded."

Cardiff fly-half Jason Tovey—who played under Jackman at Rodney Parade in 2018—was similarly incredulous to have seen Glasgow get the nod and replied: "That’s actually embarrassing."

It's to be expected that the Lions and their supporters were particularly aggrieved with the decision, which ultimately meant the difference in the result.

Two penalties courtesy of Thompson represented Glasgow's only other points of the day, while EW Viljoen converted three penalties for the visitors in a low-scoring affair.

The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings previously competed in past editions of the Pro14, but South Africa has larger representation in the URC with four outfits participating.

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One fan criticised European officials in a sweeping critique, posting: "The European refereeing standards are appalling. Funny no English or French Refs."

Another appeared to suggest there's a bias against the South African teams by tweeting: "According to the @URCOfficial standards, it's a try. No TMO check coz it's a European team."

Not only is it valid to question why Gnecchi didn't consult his TMO, it's a point all teams should be raising this week in an effort to avoid a repeat of similar incidents in the URC moving forward.

While Batti's reach for the line and subsequent miss may be fine margins, this was a prime example of how such fine decisions can mean the difference between winning and losing.

The Lions were the only South African team to win in their URC debut—a 38-26 win at Zebre—and kept top spot in their conference despite recording a second successive defeat.

Rugby has encountered criticism from some corners for spending too much time deliberating referee decisions, but there has to be a balance when officials feel there's even slight doubt over a try-scoring call.

The URC's South African representatives continue their tour for the time being, with organisers structuring the schedule so they start the season on the road in an effort to reduce the need for quarantining.

Ivan van Rooyen's Lions face a difficult trip to Ravenshill on Friday when they'll take on an Ulster team that's won all three of their games so far this season.

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