Nigel Owens: Kolbe was ‘very, very lucky’ not to see red

Respected former referee Nigel Owens says the Boks were fortunate to be awarded the try scored by Lukhanyo Am, while also describing Cheslin Kolbe as “very, very lucky” to not receive a red card.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Owens said he would have sent Kolbe off for the incident where he played Conor Murray in the air.

“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,” Owens said.

“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.

“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.”

Owens also suggested that the Boks were lucky that referee Ben O’Keeffe made the on-field call to suggest Lukhanyo Am had scored.

“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,” Owens said.

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Craig Lewis