Nigel Owens says Louis Rees-Zammit should not have been sent to the sin bin at a crucial stage in the first Test between the Springboks and Wales in Pretoria.
The speedster scored two tries to put Wales into a surprise 18-3 lead at half time at Loftus Versfeld, as the visitors looked for a first-ever victory over the Boks in South Africa.
However, with Wales already down a man after Alun Wyn Jones was yellow-carded, Rees-Zammit joined the veteran lock in the sin bin as he was adjudged to have committed a cynical breakdown offence after hauling Willie le Roux down metres from the tryline.
From the resulting penalty, the Springboks would earn a penalty try and Wales were reduced to 12 men as Rhys Carre became the third player to be yellow-carded.
However, former Test referee Owens believes Rees-Zammit could count himself unfortunate to have been shown yellow.
“Not as a Welshman but as an ex-referee, yes for me it was a bit harsh,” said Owens on World Rugby’s Whistle Watch.
“A player does a defending tackle, he needs to release the player on the ground, he needs to get up on his feet on the right side behind the ball and the ball-carrier with the back towards his own tryline and then on his feet to play the ball.
“For me, this is textbook defending by Louis Rees-Zammit. Great tackle, releases, gets to his feet so you have a clear release and then he gets on the ball legally on his feet. This, for me, is a very harsh penalty, let alone a yellow card. For me this was textbook defending and should have been play on.”
🗣”Speaking not as a Welshman but as an ex-referee, it was a bit harsh…”
After a weekend full of BIG calls, @NigelRefOwens gives his take on the refereeing decisions that had everyone talking in the latest episode of #WhistleWatch presented by @Emirates pic.twitter.com/16ei9O56NG
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) July 5, 2022
Photo: Christiaan KOTZE/AFP