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'Should be a red': Owens' very different take on the Porter yellow

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Retired centurion referee Nigel Owens has disagreed with last Saturday’s decision to only yellow card Andrew Porter for his head-on-head contact with Brodie Retallick in the Test series-clinching win by Ireland over the All Blacks in Wellington. Retallick was left with a fractured jaw, meaning he will miss most of the upcoming Rugby Championship, while Porter missed just ten minutes of the match that rounded off the three-game series that had witnessed a red card the previous week. 

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All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao was red carded for his head-high connection with Garry Ringrose in Dunedin and was subsequently banned for three matches. Porter, though, didn’t pick up any suspension as his citing for the yellow-carded tackle the following week didn’t meet the red card threshold. 

It’s something that the now retired Owens didn’t agree with and he said so on this week’s episode of Whistle Watch, his weekly series reviewing the goings-on in the rugby world. “Andrew Porter’s potential red card, very interesting one here,” he said broaching the controversy that stemmed from the decision taken by match referee Wayne Barnes. 

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Citing Dismissed | Headline News
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Citing Dismissed | Headline News

“If you remember back last week we spoke about the red card in the New Zealand game where Ringrose steps inside and he [Ta’avao] reacts in less than half a second to try and adjust his tackle height and fails to do so. Under the current guidelines, he was correctly sent off by Jaco Peyper. 

“Now what we have this week with Porter is very different. Porter is upright, he has all the time in the world now to change his body angle, to get his tackle height low and chooses not to. There is nothing wrong with that but when you get it wrong, when you make that head contact as he did, it should be a red card. When players have time to adjust they really need to adjust and get the tackle down for the safety of the game, the opposition player and themselves as well.”

It was Tuesday when the citing against Porter was dismissed, a World Rugby statement reading: “The player admitted that he committed an act of foul play but maintained that the red card threshold had not been met and that the yellow card issued at the time by the match officials was correct in the circumstances.

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“Having considered all the evidence, the independent committee applied World Rugby’s head contact process and agreed with the match officials’ on-field decision that the player’s act of foul play for a breach of law 9.13 did not meet the red card threshold due to the absorbing nature of the tackle. On that basis, the independent committee deemed the act of foul play did not merit further sanction, and the citing complaint was dismissed.”

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