Nigel Owens weighs into controversial disallowed URC try debate after Cardiff ‘robbed’

Colin Newboult
Former international rugby referee Nigel Owens in 2020.

Former international rugby referee Nigel Owens in 2020.

Former Test referee Nigel Owens has addressed the controversial incident which led to John Cooney’s match-winning three-pointer for Ulster on Friday.

The Irish province were 17-16 in arrears when Cardiff seemingly forced a turnover, broke down the field and secured the game-sealing score through Theo Cabango.

However, it was brought back for what the officials saw as a deliberate knock on from Welsh prop Rhys Carre. As a result, Ulster were awarded a penalty on the 22, which Cooney slotted to win the game for the hosts.


The Welsh Rugby Union were angry, stating in their match report that Cardiff had been “robbed”, and that was the watchword for many supporters on social media.

Owens had a different view, though, and felt that referee Mike Adamson and his TMO, Andrew McMenemy, actually got that decision correct.

The ex-match official was reacting to a post from former Cardiff centre Tom Shanklin, who also thought that the right call was made.

“Getting stick for calling it, but for me it’s a knock on. Gutting for Cardiff because they deserved the win,” Shanklin wrote, to which Owens responded: “You should be a ref. Comes off Carre hand first so knock on blue first offence.”

Welsh Rugby Union slam TMO after ‘plucky losers’ Cardiff are ‘robbed of statement victory’

Shanklin was working as a pundit on TV and had received criticism from fans for his view of the incident.

What was said

“You’ve got to feel sorry for them, because they gave everything in that game,” he said. “You could see they were tired. I mean, it was a penalty,” the Wales legend said on the BBC.

“There were a couple of incidents that happened on the right-hand side, when one of the front-row puts his hand down, it’s an unnatural position, it’s instinctive. But, when it’s slowed down, it did come off Rhys Carre’s hand.

“In real time it looks like it goes backwards, but the initial movement from the ball does go forward, and refs are so hot now on that position, because that’s not a tackling position, when your arms are out wide like that, that’s not how people tackle.

“We saw it with (Jacob) Stockdale in the first half, it’s a shame really because you’d thought Cardiff had done enough.

“There was a turnover from Ben Donnell about two minutes before and you just thought ‘they might do this’.

“They haven’t won in Ulster for a long time, they haven’t won away in a year, so you’ve got to feel sorry for them. But you can’t defend like that with your arms out.”

READ MORE: Controversial finish as Ulster edge Cardiff who lose Taulupe Faletau to injury