Nigel Owens weighs in on Paolo Garbisi’s penalty miss after France ‘got away with one’

Colin Newboult
Paolo Garbisi during Italy's Six Nations clash with France in 2024.

Paolo Garbisi during Italy's Six Nations clash with France in 2024.

Former Test referee Nigel Owens has addressed the late Italy penalty which hit the post and denied them a historic Six Nations victory.

Gonzalo Quesada’s men appeared set to earn a first-ever away triumph over France in the Six Nations when Manuel Zuliani forced the hosts to infringe.

It was not an easy chance but Paolo Garbisi would have expected to convert the opportunity when he lined up the effort at goal.

Tee issues

However, the ball fell off the tee with 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock, leading to Les Bleus back-row Francois Cros thinking that he could either charge him down or take the ball off the fly-half.

The number eight seemed to be sent back by referee Christophe Ridley before Garbisi rushed the reset and kicked the penalty but, just as he did that, replacement prop Sebastien Taofifenua started to charge at the Italian.

Cros put his hand out to stop Taofifenua and it had the desired effect, but he had moved towards the kicker and rugby writer Paul Williams posed a question on X, formerly Twitter, after the Six Nations match, asking: “I didn’t think you were allowed to charge a pen. Even if the ball falls off the tee? Or is it classed as having moved, therefore in play?”

Owens responded to that post by stating: “You can’t charge a PK until he has made contact with the ball.”

The issue was dependent on how close Taofifenua was when he stopped his attempted charge down of Garbisi, with one person responding: “But they don’t have to stand still until he starts his approach.”

Owens agreed, writing: “Correct as long as they are are not within 10m.”

Some felt that the former international referee was confirming that, in one person’s words, France “got away with one”, but the Welshman moved to clarify his view.

“Not quite, I answered a question if a player can charge a penalty,” he wrote.

Garbisi’s view

Despite the online debate surrounding that final penalty, Garbisi, to his credit, only blamed himself and apologised to his Italy team-mates.

“I take full responsibility for that,” he told ITV Sport. “I’m sorry for the team because I thought they were amazing. Also for all the Italian supporters, that’s my bad, and I will work on it.

“I was thinking about trusting my process really,” he continued. “It’s part of my job to put the kick over.

“The performance was good overall. If you get to 13-13 in the last minute with France, I think you’ve done pretty well.

“The extra man helped us in the second half. First half we spent too much time in our half, because with the possession we were not that great.

“Second half with one more man we could attack more and find space, but it all comes down to the last kick really.”

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