Manuels 'axed', or is he? Monday March 20 2006 www.planetrugby.com Controversial TMO still a touch judge Linston Manuels, the controversial television match official that came in for severe censure for his blunder in the Bulls versus Hurricanes Super 14 match at the weekend, have been "axed" from the Super 14 TMO panel. But he is to remain on the panel as a touch judge - a considerably more important position. In a statement issued on Monday the South African Rugby Union (SARU) said it will take steps to help Manuels "regain his confidence" after coming under public criticism for the mistake. The statement also said he won't be involved as TMO in the next few weeks. But he will remain on the panel to be a touch judge, where he will be in action in the Super 14 crunch match between the Waratahs and Blues in Sydney on Saturday. In fact for the next few weeks he was not scheduled to do any TMO duties anyway .... and it now appears he will not get an appointment for the foreseeable future. One can only imagine the outcry in Australasia if he is responsible for another blunder - even one half as ridiculous as his Loftus shocker. Manuels was called upon to rule on an incident at a crucial stage in the second half of the encounter between the Bulls and Hurricanes in Pretoria last Friday, when Bulls wing Akona Ndungane had footed the ball ahead and fell on it over the Hurricanes' line. Manuels, incorrectly, ruled that it was not a try. The incident came at a crucial stage midway through the second half and would have given the Bulls a likely 27-12 lead. As it turned out the Canes scored next (to make the score 20-19) and the Bulls lost their momentum and the game (26-23). On Monday SARU Referees Manager Andre Watson said they have investigated the incident and considered "all factors" around Manuel's decision to disallow the Bulls' try. They found the try to have been legitimate and that Manuels had made a mistake. "Without going into reasons for his decision, it must be stated that it was a human error," Watson said. "The Television Match Official judged that the player did not make contact with the ball with his upper body. "We are taking remedial steps to make sure that similar incidents do not occur in the future. Having said that, we must also take into account that where people are involved, there are never any guarantees." As a short-term measure, Manuels will not be assigned TMO duty in the next few weeks, while steps are being taken to help him. "We need to get his confidence back," says Watson. "He is one of our top referees, we rate him."