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Nigel Owens' 'no debate whatsoever' advice to red-carded Retallick

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Test centurion referee Nigel Owens has delivered his verdict on the red card brandished to seasoned All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick last Saturday in Tokyo. The 31-year-old New Zealander was given his marching orders by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli after he clattered into the back of the neck of Kazuki Himeno with a shoulder at a ruck in the 66th minute.


This foul play resulted in a three-game ban for Retallick at his disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, a sanction that will be reduced to two if he successfully completes a tackle school programme – an initiative that would free him for selection to potentially earn his 100th cap in the November 19 game versus England at Twickenham.

Mention of 100th caps, Owens is poised to relinquish his status as the most capped Test referee ever when Wayne Barnes equals him in earning his 100th cap when he takes charge of this Saturday’s Wales versus All Blacks game in Cardiff, a match that Retallick must sit out following the red card incident that retired ref Owens reviewed on his latest Whistle Watch show.

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The Welsh official told the World Rugby series that the Retallick intervention was clear foul play and he offered advice to the All Blacks forward regarding what should have been done to legally clear Himeno away from his low position over the ball at a ruck.

“New Zealand against Japan, a Japan player goes in to jackal the ball. The key thing here is he is on his feet. He is not off his feet. He is on his feet, he is in a strong position but he is still very low. So Retallick comes in, he comes in with a shoulder direct down to the back of the head/neck area of the player.


“That is dangerous play, high degree of danger, no mitigation whatsoever and that is a red card because it is very, very dangerous play. Some of you have been asking, ‘Well, how can you clear out when a player is in that position?’ Well, this player [Himeno] was in a good, strong, low position so if we want to clear this out, you almost have to look at it as a plane taking off or a plane landing.


“If you think of a plane landing, coming in and landing on the player, that is dangerous, it is illegal. So what you want is the actions of like a plane taking off – you want to come in low to get underneath the player, lift him up and then drive him off just like a plane taking off.

“Or you come in and you grab the player and you pull him up and you try to shift him away from that area. That is the way that you clear out these situations.

“So as a player, if you are coming in and don’t think you are able to do that, then my advice would be for you to stay on the field and also more important than that, player safety – don’t go in with a shoulder onto a player in that position on the field. Red card, no debate whatsoever.”

  • Click here to watch Nigel Owens’ latest Whistle Watch


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