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Ex-Lion 'getting stick' for breaking Welsh narrative on controversial call

By Ian Cameron
British and Irish Lions centre Tom Shanklin (C) attempts to evade the defence of New Zealand Maori team in their match in Hamilton, 11 June 2005. The New Zealand Maoris defeated the British and Irish Lions 19-13 in what was billed as the "fourth Test Match". AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Wales international Tom Shanklin was the centre of a heated social media debate on Sunday following his comments on the controversial ending of the Ulster versus Cardiff URC match on Friday night.


The final minutes of the game at Ravenhill have been a talking point over the weekend in Welsh rugby circles after referee Mike Adamson oversaw what was ultimately a ten-point turnaround in favour of Ulster in the 79th minute of the game.

During the match’s dying moments, Cardiff appeared to secure a rare win in Belfast with Theo Cabango’s potential hat-trick try, only for it to be disallowed by the TMO for a knock-on by Cardiff’s replacement loosehead Rhys Carre.

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The decision not only cost Cardiff the match but ended their hopes of a first victory in Ulster in 14 years.

Shanklin appeared on BBC’s ScrumV and said he agreed with the divisive decision, one that even saw a WRU match report claim Cardiff had been ‘robbed’.

“It was a penalty. There were a couple of incidents that happened on the right-hand side, when one of the front row puts his hand down, it’s an unnatural position, it’s instinctive. But, when it’s slowed down, it did come off Rhys Carre’s hand,” Shanklin told his co-hosts.

“In real time it looks like it goes backwards, but the initial movement from the ball does go forward, and refs are so hot now on that position, because that’s not a tackling position, when your arms are out wide like that, that’s not how people tackle,” he added. “They haven’t won in Ulster for a long time, they haven’t won away in a year, so you’ve got to feel sorry for them. But you can’t defend like that with your arms out.”


Shanklin took to social media after his television appearance to once again back the TMO’s decision, countering the general sentiment among Welsh fans which claimed Cardiff had a right to feel cheated.

“Getting stick for calling it, but for me it’s a knock-on. Gutting for Cardiff because they deserved the win. Biggest issue was the clear knock-on prior to Ulster’s try,” wrote Shanklin on X, with a video of the Carre’s apparent knock-on.

His ‘doubling downing’ drew further criticism from irate fans, who felt the call was harsh and accused Shanklin of being out of touch. Shanklin cited consultations with former referees and players, emphasizing the rigour of his analysis.

Despite support from refereeing legend Nigel Owens – who agreed with Shanklin’s assessment – the backlash continued.


Shanklin engaged directly with his critics on the platform (always a risky strategy), urging respect and defending his professional diligence in backing the officials.

“Just for a second have a think about the due diligence I would do before coming on the show,” replied Shanklin to one fan. “The former refs , players etc I’ve spoken to. I mean this as no offence but I listen to their opinion over yours. Unless you’re a B&I lion of course.”

Fans soon rounded on the former British & Irish Lions tourist, claiming he was making an argument from authority because of his Test career.

He summed it well before the night was out, saying in response to one account: ‘Angry at myself for replying now.’



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Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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