Nigel Owens insists Cheslin Kolbe was ‘VERY LUCKY’ to avoid a red card for his mid-air collision with Conor Murray… as he also argues Lukhanyo Am was ‘not in control’ of the ball for South Africa’s second try in their win over the Lions
- Former ref Nigel Owens says he would sent off Cheslin Kolbe for high tackle
- Lions scrum-half Conor Murray was taken out in the air during ill-tempered clash
- Owens said the Springboks were fortunate to be awarded crucial second try
Former international referee Nigel Owens says Cheslin Kolbe was ‘very lucky’ to avoid red for a high tackle on Conor Murray as South Africa levelled the series by winning a fiery second Test 27-9 on Saturday.
Lions scrum-half Murray was taken out in the air by Springboks winger Kolbe during an ill-tempered first-half at Cape Town Stadium.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe’s decided to brandish a yellow card to Kolbe instead of red.
South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe escaping a red card for a high tackle on Conor Murray
Owens said he would have sent off Kolbe.
He said: ‘The only mitigating circumstances here would have been whether Tom Curry and Dan Biggar shield him, and affect Kolbe’s line which causes him to do an action which he wouldn’t have done if they weren’t blocking him.
‘They don’t do this. There’s not mitigation here. Biggar and Curry don’t affect – he has enough time to change what he’s doing. Mitigation is gone.
’Biggar had tried, but he hasn’t. The onus now – once he gets into the air, you have to be aware of the players’ actions in the air.
Former international ref Nigel Owens said he would sent off Kolbe for the high tackle
‘Kolbe is very, very lucky. If this had have happened 10, 12, 18 months ago – it would have been a red card. I can understand where the yellow came from, but I could fully understand a red. He’s very lucky Murray has saved him here, and that shouldn’t be part of the equation.
‘You start at red and work down on the landing and if there are any mitigating circumstances. Kolbe has enough time to change what he is doing. When Murray is in the air, you have to be aware of his actions. I think it does (Murray putting his arm and leg out saving Kolbe from a red). If he didn’t put his arm and leg out he’s have landed on his neck and it would have been a red card.
‘I can understand where yellow came from. But if I was refereeing this I’d be more inclined to go with red. Murray’s actions have saved Kolbe there. ‘
Owens also thought the Springboks were also fortunate to be awarded a try in the second-half.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe brandished a yellow card to winger Kolbe after consulting with the TMO
Faf de Klerk prodded the ball through the Lions defence and Lukhanyo Am scampered forward to ground the ball with a diving finish.
The score was reviewed by the TMO as the Springboks centre appeared to ground the ball with his forearm, but the try was still awarded.
Owens added: ‘This is a very tough decision to make. It comes down Ben O’Keefe’s interpretation. He took control of this decision. If the ball is not on the ground, as long as a player falls on it from his hand to his neck to his waist with downward pressure it’s a try. I don’t think he’s in control there. He loses it forward.
‘It’s a very close call. O’Keefe’s on-field decision is a try and the rest of the officials don’t have any evidence to overrule his decision. That’s why they stuck with that one but I think South Africa are lucky to get it.’
Lukhanyo Am appeared to ground the ball with his forearm but the try was still awarded