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Nigel Owens' previous stance may explain illegality in the Mapimpi tackle

By Sam Smith
Marika Koroibete tackle Mapimpi Wallabies vs Springboks

Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete’s missile-like try-saving tackle on Makazole Mapimpi has come under the spotlight.


The flying Fijian-born Wallaby sent Mapimpi cartwheeling over while popping the ball free in a spectacular collision late in the first half.

The tackle could have ended dangerously for Mapimpi and questions were asked over whether there was a wrap by the Australian winger.

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A large portion of South African fans thought the tackle was a shoulder charge that warranted a yellow card punishment and possibly a penalty try.

On review of the tape the match officials deemed there appeared to be an attempt with the arms by Koroibete, particularly the left arm around the midriff.

Lost in the review was consideration for the Springbok winger’s influence in what became a hairy collision.


Mapimpi appeared to launch himself airborne a split second before contact in what appeared to be an effort to leap or jump over the arriving tackler.

The Springbok planted both feet at the same time and propelled himself upward which is deemed illegal.

Well regarded former referee Nigel Owens explained his stance on this after England wing Jonny May jumped in the act of scoring against Italy in 2021.

“Diving for the line to score a try is allowed,” he explained on Twitter.

“Jumping in the air to avoid a tackle is not.

“May jumps up to avoid tackle first which is not diving for the line.”


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Peter 633 days ago

Koroibete should be cited, withdrawn, educated, before being allowed back on a field. Charge on Clarke is proof he's dangerous. Ridiculous play.

GrahamVF 654 days ago

If what Mapimpi did was illegal why wasn't he penalised instead of an Australian scrum. Grasping at straws here.

Pierre 655 days ago

I want to see Whistle Watch of Sir Nigel Owens speak to all the reckless and dangerous illegal hits that went unsanctioned in the match. But it is all quiet so far. Yeah. I want to understand why the Independent Reviewer did not cite Koroibete. We'll never hear the explanation. Yes indeed. THIS is the spirit of rugby that must be protected at all cost, right?

Pierre 656 days ago

Springboks should insist that the officials take a year off from rugby to reflect on the spirit of the game and their responsibilities with regard to player safety.

Pierre 656 days ago

Does player safety matter? We have several cases of early onset dementia because of the heavy collisions. I have some very serious concerns in that Koroibete and the Wallabies were given a licence to harm Springbok players. Vermeulen copped reckless direct hit head to head from Koroibete. Immediate red card, but no sanction. He realises that he has a licence. Next he hits Gelant direct shoulder to the head, should be a red card, but again no sanction. (Gelant left prone. No review) Then he hits Mapimpi, no arms. Mapimpi goes through 90 and lands dangerously. Should be yellow, but again no sanction. (For his efforts Koroibete gets man of the match. What a disgrace.) Later De Allende is hit direct shoulder to head, and of course no sanction. (De Allende left prone, indicating head contact, no review.) Meanwhile Kolisi blocks a player with his chest, ruled high tackle and penalty. Faf gets yellowed for stupid slap at the ball, which brushes cheek. All these events were between 2 and 5 metres from the French touch judge Tual Trainini, in clear view. Recklessly and negligently ignored. As it was ingnored by Brendon Pickerell NZR TMO and Paul Williams NZR referee. These officials deserve no less than suspensions. They made a mockery of player safety.

Rodders 656 days ago

Bok tears? I’ll have another shot of that please

Éire-1 656 days ago

This is so bad that referee Paul Williams should be cited. A truely shocking performance by a referee that last the entire match. I've not seen dangerous play like this that had the potential to seriously injure and possibly end a players career in decades. It's clear that Paul Williams has issues with managing a high level game of rugby, his positioning wasn't even at amateur level, I would have real concerns if he was refereeing my young sons game of rugby. Really shocking stuff.

David 657 days ago

Sorry. But what video are you watching? Mapimpi steps of his left, realises the situation, then launches of his right foot. No two-footed jump, here. There is clearly no attempt to wrap. Just the usual rubbish by officials covering their backsides after the fact. Question is: can anybody watching that say that Koroibete fulfilled his “duty of care” when completing this shoulder charge/tackle thing? It was reckless, at best. Had it been Etsebeth, it would have been a card. In fact, has it been anybody in green, it would have been a card, as evidenced by the complete joke of a card against De Klerk. Cover backsides as much as you like. You know that this is rubbish.

Drew 657 days ago

His left arm moved a few inches away from his body during the tackle. All good he was attempting to wrap. Hahahha are you people fing serious. Its exactly the same as when we complain about forward passes and you say oh but he passed it back out of the hand

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