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The Nigel Owens review of 'double movement' Sipili Falatea try

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Nigel Owens has shared his thoughts on the much-debated Sipili Falatea try that clinched victory for France last Saturday night over the Springboks in Marseille. The replacement tighthead prop squirmed his way over to put his team 27-26 ahead with six minutes remaining in a fierce Autumn Nations Series encounter that eventually finished 30-26.

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The match generated numerous talking points, with red cards resulting in respective four- and three-game bans for the sent-off Antoine Dupont and Pieter-Steph du Toit. However, the decisive late France try from Falatea was also a major talking point and Test centurion ref Owens has now weighed in on the debate.

Reviewing the incident on the latest edition of Whistle Watch, his weekly Test rugby series, Owens said: “If we look at Sipili Falatea’s try in the France-South Africa game late on, people have been asking why isn’t this double movement?

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“Well, it is a very, very interesting one and I have to say it is a very, very difficult one to judge as well because what you certainly have is a ball carrier who may not be tackled but is in a position where he is not supporting his weight.

“If you felt that he was tackled or he was on the ground, he is only then allowed to place out in one movement. So if you felt there was another movement and another movement whilst he was on the ground then you would be looking at the try being disallowed.

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“If you felt that it was momentum, that he was actually going to ground and then managed to get over, like Wayne Barnes saw, then you would give the try. So I am afraid to tell you it is really one of these difficult ones which are very, very tough to call. The thing that people have been asking me is why didn’t TMO come in and why didn’t they look at this again?

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“Well, the TMO couldn’t come in because the communication system was down at that time so the referee couldn’t hear the TMO and the TMO couldn’t speak to the referee. Wayne Barnes was there on the spot and gives the decision and he sees it, so it is one of those really, really tough ones to make.”

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