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Nigel Owens: Red card could haunt rest of Peter O'Mahony's career

By Ian Cameron
Rugby referee Nigel Owens and Peter O'Mahony (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Nigel Owens backs referee Wayne Barnes decision to red card Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony in last weekend’s Guinness Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales and warns that the card could now follow the Munster flanker for the rest of his playing career.


O’Mahony became the first Irish player to be red-carded in the Six Nations when he was sent off by referee Barnes after just 14 minutes of play in the Principality Stadium. O’Mahony caught Wales prop Tomas Francis is the face with a  swinging elbow as he entered a ruck

“Wayne Barnes quite rightly showed the red card because you cannot enter the ruck like that and make contact with the player’s head. Player safety is paramount,” Nigel Owens told World Rugby’s Whistle Watch. “You have to enter the ruck and clear out on your feet. You come in low, take the player, your arms are out, move him out of the way. And, then if you go to ground afterwards, then that’s fine. But, you cannot enter the ruck like that, it’s dangerous and that is a red card.”

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Earlier in the week Owen warned that the red card could now follow O’Mahony around, in the sense that he will be on referees’ foul play radars.

“I wouldn’t go in with any preconceived ideas, but you are aware if someone has been sent off before for it,’ he told BBC Wales, also claiming O’Mahony’s teammate Conor Murray is known by referees for blocking runners. “It was very similar in the second half when Conor Murray got penalised, rightly so, for blocking near the end of the game.”

“When we were in refereeing camp a year or so ago we actually discussed from an England v Ireland game Conor Murray doing that, subtly stepping around and stopping the chaser coming in. When referees do their prep work they will be quite aware of the trends and some players and some teams.”


“When Peter O’Mahony is going into contact areas again, and a player is injured, it will be on the referee’s radar, he’ll think “let’s see what happened here”, said Owens, who has officially retired from international rugby.

“I’m not saying that Peter O’Mahony is a dirty player but he paid the price for it (Sunday), and probably Ireland did as well.”

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Nigel Owens: Red card could haunt rest of Peter O'Mahony's career