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'Very, very dumb play': Cowan-Dickie's pivotal moment that turned the Calcutta Cup

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Despite trailing 10-6 at the half, England had dominated the possession and territory stakes but were scuppered by a resilient Scottish defence.

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The visitors continued to arrest control in the second, firstly narrowing the gap to 10-9 with a Smith penalty before taking the lead when Ben Youngs put England’s flyhalf into a gap for a well-worked try.

Another Smith penalty in the 63rd minute took England’s lead to 17-10 which looked to have taken the game out of Scotland’s reach before the decisive play of the game.

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Following a second consecutive cross-field kick, Scotland looked certain to score with the ball directed into the path of Darcy Graham. The closest defender, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, made a deliberate play to disrupt the catch by illegally knocking the ball forward into touch.

After deliberation with the match officials, referee Ben O’Keefe had no option but to award a penalty try and issuing a yellow card to the England hooker, resulting in the scores being locked at 17-all.

Australian pundit and former Scotland coach Matt Williams called it a ‘very, very dumb play’ in the post-match coverage on Virgin Media Sport.

“Very, very dumb play from Cowan-Dickie, he could’ve caught the ball,” Williams said.

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“He certainly didn’t look like he knew the laws of the game. You are not allowed to bat the ball forward or out, it is a penalty and regarded as foul play in rugby, as ridiculous as some people think that is.

“However, I’ve got to say, I’ve seen some dodgy penalty tries and that’s right up there. I’m not so certain that you could say was a try definitely going to be scored. Did the foul play definitely stop a try from being scored?

“I just don’t think it fulfilled those requirements. It doesn’t matter now, it’s been awarded. That lit the game up, that penalty try.

Former Irish fullback Rob Kearney also agreed with Williams’ view but stated that Cowan-Dickie’s decision was ‘absolutely crazy’

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“Absolutely it didn’t fill the requirements for me,” Kearney said.

“He’d done all the hard work, he got himself into the right position. He timed his jump into the air really well, got his two hands up in the air, and then just decided to bat it into touch.

“It was absolutely crazy stuff. We always loathe to put the blame on one person, but he has cost his team this game.”

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