The opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup produced its fair share of controversial moments, notably Tom Curry’s and Jesse Kriel’s tackles.
Former Test referee Nigel Owens has weighed in on the controversy and has shared his opinion on both incidents in his latest episode of Whistle Watch on World Rugby’s social media channels.
Owens also commented on Will Jordan’s yellow card against France in the opening match of the tournament, as well as Fiji’s disallowed try.
Tom Curry’s red card against Argentina
Curry was initially yellow carded for his tackle on Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia, with referee Matthieu Raynal sending the tackle to be reviewed by the Foul Play Review Bunker.
The Bunker upgraded his yellow card to a red, with a disciplinary panel agreeing with the sanction and issuing Curry a three-match suspension, which can be shortened by a week through tackling school.
“Now, do we have foul play? Yes, we do. Do we have direct contact or contact with the head? Yes, we do. Do we have a high degree of danger? Yes, we do,” Owens said as he worked through World Rugby’s head contact process.
“So now after all that, we are already on a red card.
“So what happens here is this, the Argentinian player jumps in the air.
“He then comes down, and as he comes down pretty much simultaneously, Tom Curry makes contact with the Argentinian player, and we have contact with the head.
“Now, it all comes down to something as simple as this; if you [the referee] felt that Tom Curry was reckless and he could have done something to avoid what happened, then we don’t have any mitigation, and we have a red card.”
Jesse Kriel’s tackle on Jack Dempsey
Owens turned his attention to Kriel’s controversial tackle on Jack Dempsey in the opening stages of South Africa’s 18-3 win over Scotland – which went unpunished and was not cited.
The former World Rugby referee said that there was insufficient evidence of head contact between Kriel and Dempsey for the TMO to warrant stepping in and alerting the referee.
“So when the game is going ahead, the TMO will be looking at everything in the background. Just remember they have the Hawke-Eye system which has all the different angles, all the different views to look at instances in the game,” Owens said, explaining that they have angles that are not broadcasted.
“The TMO is looking at this and will then decide if he needs to bring something to the referee to then put it up on the screen and officially look at it, or he feels ‘I can’t see anything wrong here’, so we won’t be showing the referee because there’s nothing to show and then we carry on with the game.”
He added that this tackle was not cited, meaning there was agreement between all the officials that this did not warrant a red card.
“It’s important to note as well that it wasn’t cited because the Citing Commissioner also has all the angles,” he said.
“So there’s alignment between the officials on and off the field. The TMOs are always working in the background, and in his view, he does not have clear evidence to show that there was actually head contact. So again, it comes down simply to your view.
“If you’re looking at this and you feel there was head contact, then we would then enter the head contact protocol and guidelines, and then we would probably end up with a red card.
“Or if you’re looking at this and you are going, ‘well, I can’t really see if it actually is head contact’, and you don’t have evidence to say there was, then we don’t have foul play, and the game carries on.
“So, in the TMO’s view here, he feels that there is no clear evidence of head-on-head contact – that’s why we played on.”
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The article Nigel Owens weighs in on controversial Tom Curry and Jesse Kriel tackles at the World Cup appeared first on Planetrugby.com.