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Nigel Owens Speaks Out Against Rugby's 20 Minute Red Card Proposal

Nigel Owens Speaks Out Against Rugby's 20 Minute Red Card Proposal
By Michael Bolton
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Former referee Nigel Owens believes the  global introduction of the 20 minute red card rule would not be a good idea.

The 50-year-old was writing in The Telegraph on the law, which is currently being trialled in Super Rugby. This rule allows a player who has been sent off to be replaced after 20 minutes.

Recent red cards in games have led to extended calls of the 20-minute rule, as it means the red card would have less of an impact. However, Owens believe the focus must be on clearly identifying what is a red card.

The part which I don’t understand is that you will hear talk about players being unlucky to be sent off, and that therefore you need a 20-minute red card as a solution.

Well, my response would be that if a player is unlucky to be sent off, then he shouldn’t be sent off.

Red cards should be for total acts of thuggery.

Ireland’s Six Nations victory over England in March was overshadowed by the red card given to Charlie Ewels after 82 seconds for a high tackle on James Ryan.


Ryan left the field with concussion and has not played since.

Nigel Owens on Ewels red card

While Nigel Owens knows that Ewels has not gone out of his way to injure Ryan, he could have little complaints regarding the decision.

If Ewels was making a genuine tackle and had dipped down, but then made contact with the head because Ryan had dipped considerably as well, then that should not be a red card.

But Ryan was off the field for the rest of the game with a serious head injury and the following week as well.

How will it affect his career, later on in life, as a result of that act of recklessness from Ewels?


Indeed, Ryan’s career has been disrupted over the last year with concussion injuries. Part of the reason we are now seeing so many more red cards in Rugby us to ensure the safety of players such as the Leinster man, who has found himself in similar situations in the past.


Last weekend saw Stade Francais hooker Tolu Latu be red carded in their Champions Cup Clash against Racing 92 for this horrific challenge in the air on Baptise Chouzenoux.

Latu received an 11 week ban for the offence.

However, if the 20-minute law was to be approved, he could be replaced for a challenge that could have caused serious injury.


Nigel Owens believe the problem in the game is down to players receiving red card for offences that do not warrant a sending off but warns that this shouldn’t lead to the 20-minute rule.

The only reason it is up for discussion is because, quite rightly so, a lot of players are being red carded right now when they shouldn’t be for rugby collisions which are unlucky.

The last thing the sport needs is a situation where a player runs in and headbutts an opponent in the opening minutes, only for the offender be replaced 20 minutes later by a substitute.

It seems as though this debate will not be ending anytime soon.

SEE ALSO: McFarland Says 'Ulster Haven't Won S**t Yet' Ahead Of Toulouse Showdown


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