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Nigel Owens has taken issue with Kennedy Simon yellow card call

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Test centurion referee Nigel Owens has called into question the decision to only yellow card Kennedy Simon for her tackle on England’s Abby Dow during last Saturday’s World Cup final win by the Black Ferns. New Zealand ran out 34-31 winners in a splendid Eden Park final, England eventually giving second best after playing for more than an hour with just 14 players.


Winger Lydia Thompson was red-carded on 18 minutes for her tackle which put the World Cup record try-scorer, Portia Woodman, out of the final. Owens had no issue with that sending off, describing it as a straightforward decision.

However, Owens took issue with the 65th-minute decision by referee Hollie Davidson to only yellow card Black Ferns replacement Simon for her collision with Dow, who was left requiring a HIA.

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It meant that the Black Ferns were able to see out the closing minutes of the knife-edge match with the full complement of players following the ten-minute sin-binning. Speaking on the latest edition of his Whistle Watch programme, Owens said: “England-New Zealand in the World Cup, what a great final. Congratulations to everyone involved.

“Quite a clear straightforward one here. Thompson goes in upright, there is no attempt to sort of go down low and make a tackle. She goes in upright, makes contact with the head, then it becomes direct contact to the head. It is dangerous play and it is a red card. This is why we want players to try and get in low.


“Another one in the England-New Zealand game which has been a talking point a little bit was the Simon yellow card for the head contact as well. Now if you were looking at consistency we are probably looking at a red card here. Yes, there well could be contact with the shoulder first but there is still head-on-head contact which is at force and is dangerous, so this as well should be a red card.”


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Shayne 605 days ago

Red cards for accuracy mistakes is not fair to fans or players, costs a lot of money to follow teams only to hope some accident doesn't ruin it. Change the rules now before next year, won't hold my breath.

Johnny 605 days ago

All we hear from England is "If we had 14 players, we would have won". Yes, and if my Nona had balls, she'd be my papa.
Seriously, If Portia Woodman had not been assaulted, she would have scored a few tries.
Flowing rugby v boring maul?
I know what I prefer.

Pecos 605 days ago

As you say Nigel, the impact was first to the shoulder which according to current law is mitigation. So, yellow, not red. However you're wrong about secondary head to head contact at force. Why? Because Dow passed her HIA & rejoined the game. This would not be likely if she was belted in the head at force as you say, by the much bigger player, Simon.

Consistency? Woodman was knocked out & 24hrs later still couldn't remember much of the final. Her head issues from this disgusting head attack are ongoing. To label these incidences with vastly different outcomes as both red cards in the name of "consistency" is ridiculous.

Tomasi 605 days ago

I think the yellow was sufficient, Thompson's tackle was upright and borderline late, Simon's was dipping and hit the shoulder. I think a red would've been a bit harsh

Jmann 605 days ago

The bigger issue is the mere existence of RCs for accidental head clashes and the fact that they aren't just 15-20 minutes. Eventually WR will copy the SH and introduce more sensible sanctions. All it will take is for England to suffer a few more big losses from RC for them to change their stance.

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