Nigel Owens comments on Ulster’s try-saving ‘kick’ in URC clash marred with controversy

Jared Wright
Ulster forward Cormac Izuchukwu and Cardiff's Thomas Young and ex-referee Nigel Owens.

Nigel Owens has commented on the incident.

Former international referee Nigel Owens has weighed into Cormac Izuchukwu’s try-saving tackle during the United Rugby Championship clash on Friday evening.

Ulster’s 19-17 victory over Cardiff Rugby was filled with controversy as the visitors were denied a late try, which resulted in a match-winning penalty for Richie Murphy’s side.

Meanwhile, John Cooney seemingly knocked the ball forward before David McCann powered over the try line in the 58th minute.

After McCann’s score, Cardiff looked to have extended their lead when flanker Young went charging into space and into the Ulster 22.

Cormac Izuchukwu denies Thomas Young

The 31-year-old looked en route to scoring a try but was crucially denied by Ulster replacement Izuchukwu, who managed to drag the Cardiff flanker down. When Young reached out to score, Izuchukwu flung his leg around and dislodged the ball out of Young’s grasp.

Referee Mike Adamson and his officiating team deemed Izuchukwu’s actions to be legal, but him kicking the ball out of Young’s hands has been debated on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, with Nigel Owens commenting on the try-saver.

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When asked for his views, Owens explained, “You can’t kick the ball out of a player’s possession whilst he is in the act of grounding the ball.”

The law Owens is referring to is law 21.10, which states: “If a tackled player is in the act of reaching out to ground the ball for a try or touch down, defending players may knock the ball backwards, or pull the ball from the player’s possession but must not kick or attempt to kick the ball. Sanction: Penalty.”

In this case, Cardiff could well have been awarded a penalty try, which would have resulted in a yellow card for Izuchukwu.

The try-saver has been widely debated on social media, with many believing that Izuchukwu did not intentionally attempt to kick the ball out of Young’s hands.

“Controversy over this, so my view as a neutral: there’s no clear deliberate attempt to kick the ball out of the attacker’s hands, the ball is dislodged in the normal course of the tackle, not a referee in the world who’s disallowing that,” Hugo Gordon wrote.

Another reaction read: “Don’t get any of this kick argument. It’s a try saving tackle. End of.”

READ MORE: ‘No pictures on the scorecard’ – Ulster relieved to dramatically get over the line in ‘very lucky’ win over Cardiff