English pundit Stuart Barnes has labelled Jerome Garces’ decision to not award a red card during Wednesday’s Wales-Fiji match as the worst decision of the tournament.
Wales beat Fiji 29-17 in Wednesday’s Pool D encounter but the outcome of the game might have been different had the French referee ejected Ken Owens in the eighth minute, instead of only showing him a yellow card.
The Wales hooker was sin-binned for his first-half tackle on Fiji eighthman Viliame Mata, with footage showing that Owens was fortunate to escape further sanction after lifting Mata through the horizontal and dropping the Fijian on his back.
Garces and Kiwi TMO Ben Skeen initially deliberated on the offence before the Frenchman decided to give Owens a yellow card for the dangerous throw.
The fact that Mata landed on his back and not his head was deemed as a mitigating factor to Owens’ punishment with Barnes – commenting as a panellist on Fox Sports – vehemently disagreeing with Garces’ decision.
‘The throw is such an aggressive one that the guy is hurtled beyond 180 degrees and the only reason he is not given a red card is because he landed on his back and not his head,’ said Barnes.
‘I’m sorry, that is Monty Python madness. This was not a red card because it was such a clean throw that he didn’t land on his head. He went over the top. How could Ken Owens have any care about the man he was dumping there?’
Commenting on social media Barnes said that Owens’ act of foul play was ‘red in any sensible law book’ with the debatable call adding to the growing number of controversial decisions made by match officials at the World Cup.
‘Viliame Mata was thrown dangerously, without care and landed by pure luck on his back and not his head,’ added Barnes.
‘Had he landed on his head and been severely injured do you think the colour of card would remain the same?’
Simon, yellow by law but the law is an ass. It was, as you state, `a dangerous tackle.’ It was a red in any sensible law book. https://t.co/PwMJP744T5
— Stuart Barnes (@SBarnesRugby) October 9, 2019
Picture: Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images