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How Nigel Owens would have reffed farcical Sevens try that's gone viral

By Ian Cameron
England Sevens players Will Homer delayed touching down the ball at the Toulouse 7s.

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Retired referee Nigel Owens has spoken out about the controversial try at the Toulouse Sevens in France which has blown up online, amassing nearly 700,000 views.

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The incident in question occurred in a Pool A game between Argentina and England on Day 2 of the HSBEC France Sevens in the Pink City. An England player, Will Homer, broke the line and sprinted clear to the Argentinian tryline, where he waited to for a player to approach him to. It’s a common time-wasting tactic in Sevens.

The problem was that no Argentina player approached Homer, so the player’s hand wasn’t forced.

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Joel Kpoku | Le French Rugby Podcast | EP 30
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Joel Kpoku | Le French Rugby Podcast | EP 30

It soon became clear that both teams were happy for the clock to run down in the match, because as it stood both sides would make it through to the quarter-finals at the expense of Canada. Spectators were then left to watch for two minutes of a stalemate, until an Argentinian player eventually approached Homer.

Many have described the act as unsporting and against the spirit of the game, others even suggesting it amounted to some sort of match-fixing.

Now Owens, a big proponent of rugby values, has given his take on the incident, saying that he would have penalized the English ballcarrier under World Rugby’s law 9.27, which states “a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship”.

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Owens tweeted:  “I don’t think this is good for the game. A player or team must not do anything that is against the spirit of the game. I’m surprised the referee didn’t make him ground the ball. That’s what we use to do when I was on the 7s circuit, many years ago.”

He has expanded in an interview with Wales Online, saying: “Nobody wants to see something like that in the game. The referee has it in his armoury to impose a sanction if he feels an action amounts to ungentlemanly conduct and is against the spirit of the game.

“The England player who broke free against Argentina should have put the ball down without undue delay. Within the laws, the referee is entitled to tell him to put it down and act within the spirit of the game. Had I been officiating and encountered such a situation, I would have sanctioned the player. The onus was on the ball-carrier who’s crossed the try line to put the ball down.”

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While World Rugby posted the video, they are yet to officially comment on the incident. They also didn’t show the incident in their official highlights of the game on Youtube.

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