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Nigel Owens has an interesting take on the Darcy Swain incident

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Retired referee turned pundit Nigel Owens has suggested that Darcy Swain’s illegal knee-busting clearout on All Blacks‘ centre Quinn Tupaea isn’t as clean cut as some might think.


Swain is in the dock over the incident in the Bledisloe Cup match held at Marvel Stadium over the weekend, with many believing that he was extremely lucky to avoid a red card for the hit.

The Wallabies second row made contact with the knee and was penalised by Mathieu Raynal for deliberately targeting the leg after TMO Ben Whitehouse drew the Frenchman’s attention to it. Tupaea hobbled off the field in extreme discomfort and it has now been revealed that his knee has been severely damaged by the impact.

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The All Black midfielder will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a ruptured medial cruciate ligament (MCL) as well as a partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in his left knee.

After the match All Blacks head coach Ian Foster was fuming, saying: “We’ve got a big issue with it (the play by Swain), we’ve got a player who’s probably going to be out for nine months.”

“You’re not allowed to target legs on the side and clean out past the ball. The rules are pretty clear.”


Swain has been cited and will go before a disciplinary panel on Monday. The 25-year-old has also made his Instagram account private after he copped a shedload of abuse on the social media platform as a result of the contentious clearout.

Refereeing royalty Owens urged caution with the incident, pointing out that decisions shouldn’t necessarily be made on the basis of the outcome alone.


He told Fox Sports’ Christy Doran in Australia that: “Forgot the outcome of this, it is a careless clear-out and it could warrant a red card in itself and whether he deliberately targets that area, he does target that area which is something World Rugby have asked referees to clamp down on, and this could well warrant a red card,” Owens told


“It is a tricky one, there will be a lot of arguments that a yellow card is sufficient.

“There’ll also be justified arguments that a red card would be justified as well, particularly on the outcome of it. But you’ve got to be very careful that you’re not always basing your decisions on an outcome.”

Swain is likely to face a significant amount of time on the sidelines, come what may. The 6’7, 113kg forward had just returned from a ban for an attempted headbutt on England’s Johnny Hill in July and it could be a case of one-and-done for the young man.


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