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What Nigel Owens made of the red cards in France versus Scotland

By Liam Heagney
Nika Amashukeli shows Mohamed Haouas (No3) the red card (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigel Owens has reviewed the dramatic start to last Sunday’s Guinness Six Nations match in Paris where a red card for Grant Gilchrist of Scotland was quickly followed by another red card for France prop Mohamed Haouas. No verdict has yet emerged from the Scottish lock’s disciplinary hearing but the French front-rower was banned for four matches, a suspension that will be cut to three once he completed the World Rugby coaching intervention programme.

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In the meantime, retired centurion Test referee Owens has shared his thoughts on the decisions taken at Stade de France by referee Nika Amashukeli, first sanctioning Gilchrist for appearing to plant his shoulder in the face of Anthony Jelonch and then taking issue with Haouas for flying around the side of a ruck and banging heads with Ben White.

Hosting the latest episode in his Whistle Watch series from his farm in Wales, Owens said: “Let’s start with a red card for Scotland with Gilchrist. Pretty straightforward, a pretty clear red card to be honest. So he goes in high, he is always upright and with the shoulder there is direct contact with the head.

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“The onus is on the tackler because he hasn’t gone down, hasn’t gone down lower, hasn’t made an attempt to wrap and causes direct contact to the head. We don’t have any mitigation, we have a high degree of danger so the officials go through the framework and it’s a clear red card.”

Switching to the second red card that was brandished just minutes later by Amashukeli, Owens added: “Haouas red card, so basically what he does is he goes flying head first pretty much and makes head contact directly to the head of the Scotland scrum-half.

“What we have here is what we all want in the game is good teamwork by the team of four, so his assistants and the TMO are looking at this and they prompt the referee, ‘Have a look at this again, he leads with the head, direct contact with the head, high degree of danger, no mitigation.’

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“The referee then goes from where he was maybe thinking of the yellow card to, with the help of the team of four, now going up to a red card.”

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Almi 473 days ago

While fully understanding that Rugby officials are attempting to expand the game to be more inclusive of Nations like Georgia, the Ref. was initially convinced that maybe a yellow card was due, though maybe naught! Clearly the Georgian referee had been influenced by his initial decision to red card Gilchrist and was aware he may be ruining a good game! That is worrisome and dangerous to our Players. Glad he was persuaded by TMO and touch officials.

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