Saracens v Harlequins: Refereeing chiefs apologise for 'unfortunate occurrence'

Refereeing chiefs have apologised for an "unfortunate occurrence" after the television match official dismissed an incident of foul play during Saracens' win over Harlequins on Saturday.

Match officials were accused of a "dereliction of duty" after apparent foul play by Harlequins captain Stephan Lewies on Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell was ignored.

The Professional Game Match Officials Team (PGMOT) expressed its "regret that questions have been raised about player safety and decision-making".

Ex-England player Austin Healey, working for TNT Sports, spotted a clear-out by the already yellow-carded Lewies - but the TMO was heard telling the referee he did not want to explore the matter.

TMO Stuart Terheege told referee Christophe Ridley during the live broadcast: "The problem I have got now is that it looks like Austin has instigated it, because we're late, so I don't want to talk about it, OK?"

In a statement on Tuesday, the PGMOT said Terheege had decided the foul, in which the already yellow-carded Lewies slid on his knees into Farrell, "was no more than a penalty advantage".

With that advantage deemed to have been taken when Saracens went on to score, he declined to review the incident.

But it added the conversation that was broadcast between the TMO and TNT director "was regrettable" and the conversation was "not intended to be heard outside of the broadcast truck, nor were they the reason for the incident of foul play not being formally reviewed".

"Terheege is disappointed that he allowed himself to be distracted with interactions with the broadcast team and did not communicate his decision to the on-field match officials," added the PGMOT.

"The incident was an unusual and unfortunate occurrence. The PGMOT, Premiership Rugby and TNT Sports are working closely together to make sure this does not happen again."