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Think Rassie's 26 clips were excessive? Ref Owens once received 48

By Liam Heagney

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If you thought the fascinating 26-clip video review by Rassie Erasmus of the first Lions Test refereeing versus the Springboks was unprecedented, you had better think again as centurion Test-game referee Nigel Owens has recalled the time he was once sent 48 clips for review by an upset coach that he has refused to name in his latest weekly walesonline.co.uk column.


South African director of rugby Erasmus caused palpitations on July 29 when a 62-minute video filmed two days earlier found its way into the public domain, casting a huge cloud over the Springboks versus Lions series and resulting in Erasmus and SA Rugby getting charged with misconduct by World Rugby. 

There is no date set yet for that disciplinary hearing but, in the meantime, veteran official Owens has revealed how he once had to defend himself against a losing coach who had complained about a way higher number of clips than Erasmus did. 

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Mzwandile Stick and Siya Kolisi tackle accusation of boring Springboks rugby
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Mzwandile Stick and Siya Kolisi tackle accusation of boring Springboks rugby

“I did one high-profile match when the coach whose team had just lost, who I’d rather not name, sent me 48 clips of incidents he felt I had got wrong, outlining what he thought were the reasons why,” revealed Owens in his always must-read column.  

“I discussed them together with my referee’s manager and coach. In private. At our review meeting. Then an email would be sent back to the said coach outlining our view of the timeline of decisions he had sent in. In actual fact, 35 of them were the correct decisions by myself – and quite clearly so at that, too.

“There were five or six marginal calls that could have gone either way, but which weren’t particularly wrong. If they were against you then they were wrong; if they were for you then they were fine. As is always the case, depending on the team you coach or support. The other seven clips he was right about; I got them wrong.


“Fortunately none of them were game-changing decisions, but nevertheless they were mistakes on my part and I acknowledged that. This is usually the margin of error a referee gets in a game, whether getting a decision wrong or not making one when he should have when it comes to what we call non-decisions, ie a player off his feet not being penalised, an offside missed, that sort of thing.”


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