Nigel Owens explains this bizarre moment that confused the rugby world
No sooner had Portugal fullback Nuno Sousa Guedes pulled off a reality-warping piece of skill against the USA on Friday than people starting to question whether it was legal or not.
In the final quarter of their final match of the World Cup Qualification Tournament, the USA poked a ball through into Portugal’s 22, whereupon Guedes covered it by back heeling the ball to his teammate Nicolas Martins.
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Skill level: 😲😲😲
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) November 18, 2022
The first response from fans was that Martins was in front of Guedes when he kicked, which he certainly was, but Nigel Owens has cleared that up in the latest episode of Whistle Watch.
“Congratulations to Portugal after that drawn game against the USA,” the former referee said. “It meant they topped the pool and qualified for the World Cup, so congratulations to them. I bet they’re all excited and looking forward to it already.
“But we saw an incredible piece of skill in that game as well, where the fullback Nuno Sousa Guedes back heeled the ball to a teammate. Now some have been asking ‘why was this not an offside?’ Because, when he actually kicked the ball, or back heeled it, the player who caught the ball was acutally in front of him. But the key thing here is, by the time the player actually got the ball, he had retreated behind the player who kicked the ball -so who last played the ball- and that is the key thing here.
“If you’re in front of a teammate who last played the ball, you are not put onside by where the ball is, you are put onside by getting behind the teammate who last played the ball or a teammate who was onside when the other player played the ball. So in this instance, when he kicks the ball, by the time the player coming back catches the ball, he is behind the player who kicks it and therefore it’s play on and a good decision.”
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