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Nigel Owens weighs in on contentious Dombrandt try

By Ian Cameron
Maro Itoje /Getty

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Retired referee Nigel Owens has weighed in on England’s controversial try against Wales during the Guinness Six Nations showdown in Twickenham.


The 43rd-minute try – which wasn’t subject to a TMO review – has been a talking point over the weekend.

Wales hooker Ryan Elias overthrew to a defensive lineout and the ball was caught by England No.8 Alex Dombrandt, who claimed his team’s solitary touchdown alongside six Marcus Smith penalties.

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However, Wales head coach Wayne Pivac claimed that second row Adam Beard had been pushed in the back by England’s Maro Itoje, causing the Welsh lineout to malfunction.

“If we had an opportunity to review that try, it probably wouldn’t have been given, so that was frustrating.”

Asked if he thought Beard had been pushed out of the lineoutPivac replied: “Yes, he was. He was chased down the lineout and bumped, which you can’t do, but unfortunately it wasn’t picked up and the try stands. The replay we’ve seen, there was an offence there, we thought.”

Dombrandt’s try took England to 17 – 0, only for Wales to battle back into the game, eventually losing 23 – 19. In retrospect, the gravitas of England’s questionable try now seems more significant.


Now, Owens has given his say on the matter in his column in The Telegraph.

“You cannot obstruct an opponent from jumping at the lineout, and when you watch the footage back it looks like Itoje did that, before Dombrandt subsequently scored,” wrote Owens. “Normally, if there was any doubt then the referee would refer to the television match official, and because that incident was a moment of foul play it is covered under the protocol of using the TMO.


“Even if the officials were not aware of the incident, the TMO would be watching everything in the truck and could intervene. I was surprised that didn’t happen, particularly when the Wales players were asking the referee to check for foul play. That would normally trigger a review.”


“I was never one for wanting players to tell me to check something, and would tell them to not come chasing me for potential incidents to be reviewed.

“But if the captain or the player concerned did so in the correct manner regarding a particular moment, that would make me question whether they have a point and I would ask the TMO to have a look.

Maro Itoje is alleged to have pushed Adam Beard during the lineout.

Replays of the footage certainly don’t appear to be conclusive, although Owens said he reckoned that Itoje had executed some trademark skullduggery.

“If it had been checked, then the decision centres on whether Itoje obstructed Beard from jumping at the lineout. I would say Itoje probably did obstruct Beard, which means if it had been checked, I would have been pretty surprised if the try had stood.

Adam Beard appears to saddle to the right just as he goes up for the ball.

“If you did not see the incident yourself as the referee, you would be hoping that your assistants and the TMO would intervene. The smile on Itoje’s face said everything, really!

Maro Itoje
The Maro Itoje smile following the try that some have taken as evidence of foul play.

“The reason people will be disappointed is because moments like that are why we have the technology in the game.

“I have seen the comments made by Pivac and he is right to be disappointed and to ask the question why it wasn’t checked.”


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