Sevens legend Waisale Serevi has suggested that Fiji, Tonga or Samoa would not have been as lucky as Ken Owens when he received a yellow card in Wales’ thrilling contest with Fiji at the World Cup on Wednesday.
Owens saw yellow in the first half for a tip tackle on Fiji No8 Bill Mata, in which the Edinburgh forward’s legs went above the horizontal.
The decision was mitigated by the fact that Mata landed on his back rather than his neck or head. But that has not convinced many people on social media who feel that the hooker should have been awarded a red.
One of those was Serevi, who not only said that it was a red card but that it would have been if the tackle was made by a Fiji, Tonga or Samoa player, his opinion perhaps suggesting a bias towards Wales and their fellow tier one nations.
This is what he said:
— Waisale_Serevi (@Waisale_Serevi) October 9, 2019
This is not the first time there have been accusations that tier one sides are given preferential treatment from referees at this RWC. Of the six red cards that have been handed out so far at this tournament, four have been for tier two nations which does not necessarily suggest bias exists.
However, all of those six teams were the underdogs in those games (although not by much in some), which does perhaps suggest that referees favour the strongest side rather than tier one sides.
Warren Gatland's Wales clinch thriller in Oita after shaky start versus Fijihttps://t.co/WxKaeVEOuP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 9, 2019
Although Wales were actually losing when Owens made the tackle, they were indeed the favourites going into the match. This decision will only add to the speculation that tier two sides are treated unfairly and it is understandable why some felt that that was a red card.
Although Mata did land on his back, that had no part to do with Owens who had recklessly tackled him and really had no control of where he landed. There has also been a furore on social media that Wales were allowed to consistently go off their feet at the ruck, something that James Davies was eventually sin-binned for. Wales won a tight affair in the end 29-17, but the game could have been very different if Owens’ card was a different colour.
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