Nigel Owens gives his take on controversial Exeter call
The rugby world has been left to debate this week Karl Dickson’s decision to yellow card Exeter Chiefs’ Olly Woodburn on Sunday against Leicester Tigers.
The Tigers were awarded a penalty try at Welford Road in the Gallagher Premiership after Woodburn dived on opposing winger Chris Ashton to prevent him from scoring. It was something that looked perfectly normal at the time, as it was all Woodburn could do to stop Ashton from grounding the ball. However, to the letter of the law the Chiefs man dived on a tackled player in order to prevent a try being scored. That was worthy of a penalty try and therefore a yellow card.
The plot thickened when that turned out to be Woodburn’s second yellow card of the match, meaning he was dismissed for the entirety of the second half basically. So while this was not actually a red card offence, many have people have argued that it was not a yellow either.
Refereeing legend Nigel Owens has given his take on the incident as well, and he has come to a completely different conclusion to Dickson. The Welshman wrote on Twitter: “Personally if we penalise this then players will dive on the ground from 5m out,slide over knowing that it’s virtually impossible to defend it. He doesn’t dive on him so for me I’d play on. But not sure if the refs have had a directive on it mind.”
I can’t 🤷♂️🏉lol . Personally if we penalise this then players will dive on the ground from 5m out,slide over knowing that it’s virtually impossible to defend it. He doesn’t dive on him so for me I’d play on. But not sure if the refs have had a directive on it mind. https://t.co/YvtBQvl1Gz
— Nigel Owens MBE (@Nigelrefowens) April 16, 2023
While Owens clearly differs from Dickson on this matter, he has stressed that he does not know what the directive is, which might exonerate his former colleague. This is probably something that will need addressing by the law makers in the near future though.
Take a look at the incident:
Chris Ashton is denied Premiership try 100, before Olly Woodburn is given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow. Leicester are awarded a penalty try.#GallagherPrem pic.twitter.com/20dWUiJDHS
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 16, 2023
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter’s view has been echoed by much of the rugby world so far, as he emphasised after his side’s 62-19 loss that it was the only thing that Woodburn could have done.
“I think the circumstances contrived against Olly (Woodburn) in respect of the sending off,” Baxter said. “The first yellow card for a deliberate knock-on was clearly correct but for the second, it was the only thing he could have done to prevent a try.
“If the try had been awarded then nobody would have looked at it but as it wasn’t the TMO went through the process and adjudged that by diving on top of the player on the ground, he was forced into touch.
“There was therefore an act of foul play which then results in a penalty try and the issue of another yellow card.”