Fitzgerald critical of Owens’ ref style

Date published: April 11 2017

Former Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald has criticised referee Nigel Owens for what he feels are unprofessional comments made in the course of a game.

Owens, who oversaw the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final and is considered as one of the world’s finest whistleblowers, has come under scrutiny from Fitzgerald, following his officiating of Munster’s 10-7 victory over Glasgow in Cork on Saturday.

Just after Owens had ended advantage, Munster number four Billy Holland threw a poor pass after which the lock complained as to why his side weren’t given a penalty for the initial infringement, to which the witty Welsh referee responded:

“Advantage is over there lads. It’s poor play by you there on the pass. Under no pressure there.”

Not everyone is a fan of his witty one-liners. And Fitzgerald is one of those, saying he thought Owens shouldn’t be commenting on the game and making personal comments which only serve to humiliate players.

“His first focus is to make it a good spectacle, that he referees the game correctly,” he told The Left Wing.

“We’re heading into a dangerous territory for me.”

Fitzgerald also referred to a moment during a Leinster-Munster clash in December when Owens penalised Leinster prop Cian Healy at the breakdown.

“The hands out rule changed three years ago, where have you been?” Owens said to Healy.

“I don’t like it personally,” Fitzgerald told The Left Wing.

“He is taken seriously, he’s a brilliant referee, no doubt about that. I just think those kind of things are disappointing and it’s disrespectful to the players who are putting in a huge amount of effort.

“There’s no place for it in the game. You can’t actually speak back. It’s almost like a situation where someone is on a podium having a go at someone in the crowd. It’s wrong because there’s no platform to come back.”