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Owens' consistency under the microscope

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Lavanini red card was a fair call but fans question Nigel Owens' consistency with England infringements

The decision to red-card Tomas Lavanini was a fair and just decision under the letter of the law but it is the non-calls against England that have left fans questioning Nigel Owens in the wake of England’s runaway 39-10 win that all but ends Argentina’s World Cup.

Referee Nigel Owens misjudged the initial high tackle on Owen Farrell, explaining to players ‘Play on, no foul play for me’ before it was reviewed by the TMO two minutes later at the next stoppage.

Following a second look, Owens judged that a red card was necessary with no mitigating factors for the high shot.

Speaking on ITV former England coach Clive Woodward was puzzled by Owens decision to let play on following the Lavanini tackle

“Nigel Owens saw it live and said ‘it’s fine, it’s fine’. So if you haven’t got the TMO everyone would have just carried on,” he said.

“I don’t think any Argentinian can complain about that. It was a red card and a very simple decision but why didn’t Owens see it in the first place?”

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The decision to send Lavanini off in the 17th minute was always going to swing the match hugely in England’s favour with Argentina fighting on with 14-men for the majority of the match.

However, the leniency shown by Owens towards England’s own infringements brings into question whether they were given preferential treatment.

As England piled on infringements early in the match, Owens explained to captain Owen Farrell each penalty including a ‘no-arms tackle by Kyle Sinckler’ on an Argentinian player. This warranted nothing more than a warning and a penalty without a review of the tackle.

The second non-call came moments after Lavanini’s red with Manu Tuilagi taking out Argentinan fullback Emiliano Boffelli in the air. England were penalised but many feel this warranted a yellow card with the tackler not attempting a ‘fair challenge’ for the ball.

England coach Clive Woodward was also critical of the non-yellow on Manu Tuilagi for his tackle in the air.

“It’s a definite yellow card. No-one from England can be complaining if he’s got one. If the Argentina player comes down on his head, you’re looking at real problems,” he said on ITV.

“It doesn’t matter how far off the ground you are, if you hit him in the air it’s a card. I think we got away with that one big time.

“In the spirit of the game, if there’s already been a red card, then Manu has to go for a yellow card.”

Mario Ledesma following Argentina’s loss to England:

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Lavanini red card was a fair call but fans question Nigel Owens' consistency with England infringements