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Nigel Owens on the disallowed Ireland try and 'cynical' Hogg play

By Liam Heagney
Referee Luke Pearce explains the disallowed Ireland try (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Centurion Test referee Nigel Owens has shared his thoughts on two much-talked-about incidents in last Sunday’s Scotland versus Ireland match at BT Murrayfield – the quick Scotland throw-in that resulted in a disallowed Ireland try, and the decision against Stuart Hogg when he tackled the hand of Conor Murray when the scrum-half tried to pass the ball at a ruck near the home team’s try line.


Owens reviewed both controversies in the latest edition of the World Rugby Whistle Watch series and his verdict was that Luke Pearce was correct in not allowing the Ireland score to stand following the botched Scottish lineout, but he claimed the referee was wrong for not penalising Hogg with a yellow card for cynical play.

The Welsh official, who refereed the last Test match in his career in November 2020, admitted that he was initially confused about the lineout decision in Edinburgh. “Very interesting one up in Murrayfield. I was up watching the game myself and do you know what, I was scratching my head as well for a couple of seconds,” he began.

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“Quick throw-in: now the laws of a quick throw-in – don’t mix up between the laws of the quick throw-in or a quick lineout. A quick lineout is you form the lineout quickly and the ball is chucked in so everything that applies to lineout law still applies even though the ball may have been chucked in a little bit quicker. But a quick throw-in, it’s different.

“It means the same ball must be used, not touched by anybody but the player who throws in. So what happens here, it is a quick throw-in with a different ball so the quick throw-in is void, which means that the ball should not have been thrown in, which means the ball does not come back into play.


“We cannot play advantage to Ireland in this instance. Even though it was Scotland’s own mess up by chucking it in and they lost the ball, advantage can’t be applied because the phase of play should not have started in the first place, therefore the referee was quite right – no try and back to the lineout.”


Switching to the Hogg incident, which split opinion at the time. Some fans that he shouldn’t have been penalised for what he did to Murray, while others believed that the penalty awarded against Hogg should have also resulted in a yellow card for the full-back.

“If he is on his feet supporting his own body weight, which means he is not leaning on players in that contact area or in the ruck or in the pile-up, if he is supporting his own body weight and as long as he is onside, when the ball is picked up off the ground by Murray, Hogg is quite entitled to try and knock the ball backwards,” reckoned Owens.

“Remember, if he gets it wrong and knocks it forward, he is in trouble, but he is also quite entitled to take the hand. So, he takes the hand, but the key thing is, was he on his feet? And if you look at it again, he wasn’t. He was leaning over which means he wasn’t supporting his own body weight so then it is a penalty.

“The key thing here as well, linebreak by Ireland, quick ball, good opportunity to get over the goal line so this now becomes cynical play and then should have resulted in a yellow card to Hogg.”



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