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The French connection

From Bod’s hat-trick to Sexton’s drop-goal, no opponent has defined this Irish rugby century quite like France

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Six of the very best rugby player and referee interactions

By Philip Bendon
Andy Goode

Rugby and banter go together like salt and pepper, one without the other is just, well a bit boring!

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Luckily for rugby fans, the game is full of characters who are more than capable of holding their own in witty comebacks, hilarious jokes and bizarre one-liners.

This list looks at some of the best moments captured on a rugby pitch in recent memory.

6. Nigel Owens – ‘This is not soccer!’

Rugby’s great comebacks start with rugby’s greatest referee! Welshman Nigel Owens is correctly regarded in the pantheon of rugby’s most influential characters of the professional era.

Combining an impeccable understanding of the game, it’s laws and how to implement them, Owens rarely got it wrong throughout his career.

It was his personality however that gathered the most attention, his ability to connect with players on a personal level and to just be “one of the lads” whilst also being able to crack the whip was a skill few have possessed either before or since.

In this instance, Owens is overseeing a Pro12 clash between Munster and Treviso. Having had just about enough of the constant backchat, in particular from Treviso scrumhalf Tobias Botes.

In a hilarious interaction that had players, fans and pundits in stitches, Owens introduced himself to Tobias before delivering the now famous ‘This is not soccer line’.

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Pure Gold! Enjoy!

5. Andy Goode & Wayne Barnes – ‘He is allowed to tackle you if you have the ball!’

The man, the myth, the legend, former England flyhalf Andy Goode was one of the most recognizable faces in the game during his playing days.

Now making his way in the media world as one of the games top pundits and podcasters, Goode had several hilarious incidents on the pitch that quite frankly fill a full list on their own.

In this particular instance it is his interaction with referee Wayne Barnes that is hilarious. After a full game of hilarious jabs at each other, starting with Barnes saying ‘tackling as well Goodie’ as the flyhalf chased up his own kick and put in a good tackle leading to a Newcastle penalty.

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Barnes states a clear rugby fact to Goode that was really the icing on the cake of a great afternoon or rugby banter.

Goode who was playing for Newcastle Falcons at the time was trying to wind down the clock when he got smashed in a big tackle. Lying in a heap on the advertising boards, Goode looks to Barnes for some sympathy.

One point the flyhalf neglected to take into account is that in the rugby when you are holding the ball in the field of play you can be tackled! A point Barnes quickly pointed out to him!

4. Andrew Hore – ‘Are we not allowed to tackle Dan Carter?’

If a rugby player were to be a god in a particular country, you’d be hard pressed to find a more likely option than Dan Carter in New Zealand.

Widely regarded as the greatest flyhalf of all time, many fans believe that DC is the greatest player full stop.

An absolute magician who made the impossible seem mundane, DC was a key component to the All-Black machine that won back-to-back World Cups in 2011 & 2015.

Playing for his beloved Crusaders, Carter was facing off against many of his soon to be All-Black teammates as they took on the Hurricanes in the final round of the Super Rugby tournament.

Two of these teammates Ma’a Nonu and Andrew Hore in conjunction with Carter would be involved in one of the funniest moments of the season.

In front a of a crowd of 17,000, Carter’s great mate Nonu lined him up for what by any standards was a no arms challenge which when dealt out by the 110kg Nonu is a hell of a shot.

To Carter’s credit he bounced right back up, but the referees had other ideas as they rightly reprimanded Nonu and had a chat with Hore.

It was at this moment that Hore delivered the line of the season!

3. Tana Umaga – ‘We are not playing tidily-winks out there!’

Poor Dan Carter was once again on the receiving end of Nonu’s wrath. This time it would be Nonu’s former captain and mentor Tana Umaga who would deliver the line to the referee.

At that time (well throughout his career) Carter was firmly cemented as New Zealand’s golden boy. Opposition players were often caught complaining about referee’s “protecting” Carter in the sake of the All-Blacks interest.

In a moment frustration Umaga explains to the referee that Rugby is a physical sport and that Nonu’s hit was marginal at best.

Admittedly I am very much reading between the lines here, but you get the gist! Have a listen to this moment from an All-Black legend.

2. Nigel Owens – ‘How many times have I refereed you?’

Of course, Owens was going to appear on this list multiple times, the moment in question this time took place during the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

On the same day that the rugby world was processing the shock result of Japan knocking over the mighty Springboks in the game’s biggest ever upset. Two other tier 2 sides dreamt of making their mark on the tournament as Georgia and Tonga locked horns.

A fixture that would pit two contrasting styles, Georgia’s forward grunt would overcome Tonga’s attacking flair in a tightly contested 17 – 10 wins to get their campaign off to the best possible start.

Leading the way for the Georgian’s was their immensely powerful front row, all of whom played in Europe’s top leagues.

Key amongst them was Clermont star Davit Zirakashvili whom Owens had previously dealt with on a number of occasions.

As the two sides get ready to pack down for a scrum, Zirakashvili makes a comment of not understanding Owen’s instructions leading to this great interaction.

1. Romain Poite – ‘I am the referee not the coach’

England vs Italy has historically been a very one-way affair as the Red Roses tend to bowl over their continental counterparts with relative ease.

In the first forty minutes of their 2017 Six Nations match up, England’s record run of 17 consecutive victories was on the line as the Azzuri pitched up with one hell of a game plan to bamboozle their hosts.

By not committing any players to the breakdown, Italy caused England to infringe repeatedly leading to several Italian penalties and a significant 10 – 5 lead at halftime.

Unfortunately for the Azzuri this was going to be as good as it got as England came out with a renewed game plan in the second stanza to come away with a 36 – 15 win.

In a bizarre half, England’s star laden side couldn’t figure out how to counter Italy’s lack of commitment at the breakdown.

This confusion resulted in England backrow James Haskell asking an unlikely source for some clarity.

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