Clip 8 - 12 May 2017 - Law 11
The Chiefs are playing white against the Cheetahs who are playing in orange. From a tackle, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, the Chiefs' scrumhalf, passes to James Lowe (11) on his left and near the touchline. Sergeal Petersen Cheetahs clashes with Lowe who stays on his feet, lifts the ball up in his left hand and puts it into the grasp of Liam Messam (20) on his left, who manages to stay in play, but the referee blows his whistle, says that there had been a "forward transfer" and awards a scrum to the Cheetahs.
The law that deals with a forward pass (Law 12), does not use the word pass. It speaks of a throw forward. That means that the ball travels through the air. The word pass in the sense of a transfer of possession does not require to travel through the air. What the referee calls a forward transfer is dealt with in Law 11 which deals with offside play.
Law 11.6 Accidental offside
(b) When a player hands the ball to a team-mate in front of the first player, the receiver is offside. Unless the receiver is considered to be intentionally offside (in which case a penalty kick is awarded), the receiver is accidentally offside and a scrum is formed with the opposing team throwing in the ball.
The referee was 100% correct.