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'I just don't like that last sort of flick': Owens on Barrett red

By Liam Heagney
(Source/Stan Sport)

Veteran Test referee Nigel Owens has had his say on last weekend’s hottest rugby topic, the red-carding of All Blacks full-back Jordie Barrett after his boot made contact with the face of Australia’s Marika Koroibete during the Rugby Championship match in Perth. 


Barrett was sent off by referee Damon Murphy for the incident, the All Blacks playing the next 20 minutes of the contest a man down before being able to replace the banished Barrett under the controversial 20-minute red card trial law.

There were fears the All Blacks back could miss the remainder of the Championship through suspension but he was exonerated at the subsequent SANZAAR judicial committee hearing after it concluded that Barrett’s indiscretion was unintentional.

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“The accidental nature of the incident led the judicial committee to find there was no intentional nor reckless act of dangerous play, with the result that the red card is expunged from the player’s record,” read the statement. 

Owens, though, claimed he would have likely given Barrett a red card had he been refereeing the match. Speaking on the latest edition of his weekly Whistle Watch video series from his farm in Wales, the Test match centurion brought his own playing days as an average schools team full-back into his assessment of the much-debated aerial clash in Perth.  

“There is one incident in particular that everybody is talking about, particularly on social media. Jordie Barrett, red card. Was it a red card, yes or no? Let me tell you now then what I would have been doing, I am very similar to what the referee would have done in deciding it was a red card,” Owens began. “So when a player jumps up in the air to catch a ball, if then there is a complete accident and his knee or his foot makes contact with a player’s head or face, if there is nothing malicious, reckless or intent in that then there would be no foul play. 


“So what I would look at, or what you need to look at to make a decision on whether this is a red card or not is this: does Barrett, by jumping up in the air, when his foot goes out and makes contact with the Australian player’s face, does he do an unnecessary act? 

“So basically does he put his foot out needlessly and not in the natural way of jumping up to catch a ball? That is all you need to decide and I have looked at this and my humble opinion as a very, very average full-back back when I was in school was I just don’t like that last sort of flick of the foot up in the last action that he does. To be honest with you I probably would have looked at a red card as well.”


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