Sunday Apr 1, 2018 Controversies galore as Munster knock out Toulon with brilliant late try

Controversies galore as Munster knock out Toulon with brilliant late try
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A magnificent individual effort from Andrew Conway helped Munster see off Toulon for a spot in the European Champions Cup semi final in a game full of controversy. Munster will meet Racing 92, after they beat Clermont. 

With six minutes left to play and six points down, Munster needed a try to put pressure on the French giants and Conway did just that with a superb piece of running.

Francois Trinh-Duc’s clearance kick missed touch and, doing extremely well to catch the ball above his head while balancing in play, Conway glided through the attempted Toulon defence to send Thomond Park into raptures.

Earlier in the match Conor Murray’s knowledge of the laws saw him take advantage of another Toulon mistake to score.

With the away team scrambling to clear the ball from their own line, hooker Guilhem Guirado dropped the ball while attempting a pick-and-go, and quick as a flash Murray was on the ball to dot it down.

The scrum half immediately looked up and told referee Nigel Owens that there was a knock on so therefore he wasn’t offside and he had scored, and, after an age deliberating with the TMO, Owens agreed.

“It’s a very intelligent try,” said captain Peter O’Mahony afterwards. “We were taking the mick out of him inside there, saying it was a handy one, but you’ve got to be switched on for something like that.

“That’s the type of player he is, very bright, very diligent.  And, you know, a lot of guys wouldn’t even have the balls to go and do it.”

There’s a strong argument that Munster should never have been in that position to start with though.

With just 30 seconds in the match gone, Simon Zebo was lucky to escape a yellow card and potentially a penalty try after he looked like he punched the ball out of Chris Ashton’s hands and out of play.

Again, after speaking to the TMO Owens decided that he was trying to catch the ball and that it was a knock on by Ashton.

Simon Zebo incident:

Full match highlights:

36 Comments

  •  reality
    reality

    At full speed i understand that it travels towards the try line. When you're tackled and your momentum stops, then should flat not be flat?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Apologies for my lack of clarity on 4th paragraph, what I meant is "let's say for arguments sake it's reviewed and they feel N.O made a mistake..." I personally think it was a good call, but for arguments sake, if it was a bad call it amounts to SFA...

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Yes, you are. 99% of passes goes forward (i.e towards the defensive tryline) from where it is passed, but that is not what the laws are designed to penalise.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    To strictly answer to your 4th paragraph: No. when a game is over, it's over whatever the mistakes occurred or not. But as said above, we should not censure ourselves, dear armchair refs, to debate and discuss about any decision. #couscous and rugby can match together OR maybe we could all agree on everything. Personally, i continue to raise an eyebrow with Owens ref decisions, this article offers a certain insight. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2018/04/05/nigel-owens-now-much-celebrity-referee-big-games/

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    Am I the only one that thought the Trinh Duc pass was blatantly forward? Everybody thought it was at first, and the replay shows that it was. This whole thing of calling a pass flat when it's not is ridiculous. Flat has to mean flat. If it's flat but a little bit forward, then it's not flat, it's forward.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    I agree with your first three paragraphs completely. 4th paragraph - NO did not make a mistake. Its obvious from similar incidents that it has to be 100% clear that the player has hit the ball into touch for it to be a penalty. Its not like messing up an interception.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Where did he err?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    In all honesty social media has given both a voice to the voiceless and a voice to the ignorami... I, you, us, all have a voice on this platform...if I say N.O is a useless idiot and a bunch of you thumbs up the comment then it gives power to those that perhaps should not criticise... Some of you have had the (mis)fortune of refereeing matches, you are a hair thickness above the rest of us commenting. Owens has had a career of top level club, international and top top level international refereeing... Of course, should he be able to wave his cards without due course? Of course not... But should he have every aspect of his game viewed under a microscope by the public and the results published in full view - perhaps not. Let's say world rugby review this. They see N.O made a mistake with the knocked into touch thing. Ok, so next step, reward points to that team? What about rewarding retrospective field position to the opposition for X,y,z? Let's say based on their review they decide to hand Toulon the victory, would that make true fans truly happy? Should we shoot back to the RWC and retrospectively hand France the RWC title? If not why not? Why bother unless there is a reason for doing so? Recently the Wales England game the rugby bosses outed the referee for a bad call, what came of it? Anything tangible? No, so why bother publicly doing so?

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    In a way, I like the fact that the ref evened things up a bit. Its the right thing to do. Its old skool, but I respect the intent. You probably do too. Defo the most honorable and fairest thing to do if you have erred. Its supposedly not professional, but that's debatable.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    I never said referees are above criticism. I'm saying the frequency at which they're blamed for making wrong decisions that determine the outcome of matches severely outweighs occasions where that's actually happened. I'm also saying fans often turn to blaming the ref for "bias" or nitpick to the nth degree when actually the ref was totally fair and they just can't accept that their team was outplayed.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    wouldn't like to be reffed by you, as you clearly don't understand the laws of the game

    Reply
  •  bib160
    bib160

    I reffed a few games myself i know how hard it is even if it was at a very low level. I think fans can suck it up when the ref doesn't seem biaised in that game the 3 or 4 calls that were 50-50 turned out munster's way. This, in addition to very unclear explanations from NO i think the fans are entitled to be frustrated. It is fair to say that this is not Nigel Owens best performance. Maybe a post match press conference with the refs (TMO included) could help clarify the few delicate moments and make everyone (players staf and fans) more aware of the many laws and interpretations that there is...

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    I wasn't necessarily directing that comment towards anyone here, but I do think it is an example of something a lot of people say. For example, so many people were saying; "Wales would have won if the TMO had given THAT try". This is just untrue. Perhaps we should be more accepting of their interpretation. After all, they are professional referees who do this for a living and they have years and years of experience. Their interpretation has more validity to it than us armchair experts. I'm almost certain any regular person would completely bottle it within a minute if they were thrown into a ref's position. Obviously there are times when the criticism is justified, but the level and regularity of criticism that is directed towards them is ridiculous.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    You perfectly know that controversy, fight, cheating will sell more clickbaits than a straight a formidable performance ;) Just look at Leinster formidable match vs Sarries article... with 0 comments. I dont think there is anybody blaming Toulon loss on Owens, Trinh duc horrific kick was the justification of this loss. Toulon can only blame themselves to throw away a victory they had in their pockets. But, i'm more annoyed to read people who always put Owens in a "dont blame him" step, and allow themselves some unfair critics towards others refs. To bounce on your question, will we ever be able to say that sometimes refs do mistakes, shit happens and move on... or will we always say "you know it's a question of interpretation" and close eyes?

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Unlikely. It's been really noticeable in recent times how much people are increasingly blaming the refs, unless if they're winning of course. I think people really underestimate how damn difficult being a referee is. Not only have you got to manage a fast paced game in which a team of 15, large, testosterone fuelled men are trying to mangle another team of 15, large testosterone fuelled men. But you've also got to enforce a HUGE number of laws, many of which aren't exactly black/white. It would be great if fans could just sack up and accept that refs are human and they are occasionally going to make an iffy/wrong calls. It's just a part of the game. Very rarely do I think a refereeing decision has actually determined the outcome of a match. I mean, that Zebo incident happened in the first minute! Anyone who suggests or even thinks that Toulon would have won if a penalty try had been given is a moron.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Will we ever get a game in the future where we sit back and say "awesome game, right team won" or will we always blame a loss on one (or multiple) refereeing incidents now?

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    You didn't blame the referee, and while that is commendable, there were a significant amount of Ulster fans who did.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Well, if the only explanation of Nigel Owens describing that "Zebo push was upward... so unintentional" is sufficient for you, really, better to stop here and move on. Anyway, hold your guinness for Nigel. https://twitter.com/adrian0_adrian/status/980835337093214208

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Yes, you have that correct. Not sure if the advice is relevant. I'm not Irish (or Welsh). So I can look at this with two eyes. Just pointing out that Owens is 100% consistent in how he has reffed both incidents and his decisions can be fully backed up by the laws. Sanctifying one/two decisions of Owens is not sanctifying every decision he makes. And although BOD was one of the greatest players, he is not a good enough to pundit to be granted the last word.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    So if i follow you well.... Brock James competed for the ball with Bosch, win the contest and then knocked the ball out of the pitch. Result: Yellow card + penalty try... because a try would have been scored even if Bosch was not able... to score. When Zebo was innocently trying to catch the ball with one hand at full speed... by punching it (just before OR simultaneously) Ashton grabbed it with both hands. Result: No intent, knock-on toulon, scrum munster. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed are kings. (and i speak for both of us) One advise though, don't sanctify every Nigel decision. As said @mise, the fact he balanced up the game on some 2nd half decisions is already an admission of his mistake. The last word to Brian O'Driscoll https://twitter.com/BrianODriscoll/status/980164211627225088

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Unfortunately not. The video you have linked to does not show the whole incident and how the decision was made. You need to look at this video from 1.20 onwards to see what happened in that case. Owens has been completely consistent across the two incidents. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1rwee7 Owens did not yellow card James for the first attempt at challenging for the ball. This is effectively the same as the Zebo incident. James is yellow carded for the second go at the ball with his left hand. He explained this clearly on the pitch which is shown in the video. Owens has been 100% completely consistent. In actual fact, the James yellow card shows exactly where he (and by assumption most referees) draw the line.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Same ref, different outcome https://youtu.be/10mNjrV1Ox4 (at 1:15)

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think there was a similar instance when a French player (playing for France) threw the ball into touch after being snagged close to his try line.. I agree with you im, I think if this starts getting policed in every instance it has the potential to be another controversial intervention which is open to interpretation, referees will make different calls and inconsistencies will arise. Police this like the obvious SBW example or any of the others and it will reduce the inconsistencies. Of course there will be an increase in lessons in training to make it look like you're trying to catch it...

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    100% agreement with you on this. I don't think this law should be enforced really strictly. It should be reserved for cases like the SBW you highlight. Zebo's primary objective was to stop Ashton getting the ball, not play it into touch. There was no guarantee it would go into touch anyway. Another example, which I cannot find a video for was when Thomas Castaignede was playing for Sarries. Time was up for the first half and he was covering across the pitch to field a kick. There was nothing he could do when he got there and was going to get tackled straight away. He was about 5 meters from the touch line (maybe a bit closer) so could not catch it and run it out. So he just batted it out with his hand.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    if he is part of the ruck and uses his hands then its a definite penalty. Law 15.7. The only way for it to be legal for him to pick up the ball is to be considered not part of the ruck. The ball never goes behind the back foot of the player to his right so it never leaves the ruck, because he drops its. Its treated like it was the scrum half picking the ball. If he knocks on, the ruck is over, but if he drops it backwards without removing it from the ruck, the ball is treated as still in the ruck.

    Reply
  • Deliberately knocked out of play. Yellow card. Penalty try.

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    Zebo v lucky. The whole first half in fact, it seemed like N.O. was pro Munster. However second half was where he balanced it up - incl with the sweetnam tap back. It so wasn't forward! See it here at 1.32.46 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmW0FHQWh0s

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I guess I was wrong then.... Controversy everywhere... *Rolls eyes*

    Reply
  •  bib160
    bib160

    "Guirado was not part of the ruck...//... He picks the ball up but does not remove it from the ruck." If he was not part of the ruck and picks it up then the ruck is over therefore it is a try. The problem i have is that N.O and the TMO try to find out if it is a knock on or not were it would have been much easier to find out if he was part of the ruck. that creates a whole controversy that could have been avoided quite easily.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Controversies? I can only notice one controversial call. Murray try: Guirado slightly knocked on the ball, then Murray used all his experience to attract Owens attention. Try. No controversy. Toulon try: Bastareaud pass was more flat than a clear forward pass. Game on, try, No controversy. Zebo punch: This one is very polemic. Zebo was never in position to grab the ball, and clearly punched the ball. And the fact Ashton would have touched it first does not make any difference. (Law 23 foul play) A player must not attempt to kick the ball from the hands of the ball-carrier. Penalty. And when an act of foul play prevents a try... (Law 3 penalty try) A penalty try is awarded between the goal posts if foul play by the opposing team prevents a probable try from being scored, or scored in a more advantageous position. A player guilty of this must be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off. Regarding the law, it should have been a penalty try and yellow card. Regarding Owens, there was nothing. Regarding french fans, they will say "french rugby has many problems, Nigel Owens is often one." https://youtu.be/10mNjrV1Ox4 (at 1:15) Ref must respect the law, but fans must respect the ref interpretation of the law, even when if it's a bad one.

    Reply
  •  pgrugby
    pgrugby

    The law they are reviewing here is, "Intentionally throwing or knocking the ball into touch." That is a penalty offense, and hence a penalty try as if Zebo hadn't deliberately knocked it into touch then Ashton would have been apple to touch down for the try. I still think it is a 50/50 call. So close to make at full speed. Even in slow replay hard to tell that Zebo wasn't trying to get it and just might have been able to get control of it if he hadn't collided with Ashton... or that at least that was Zebo's intent. 1:02 of this video is the perfect example of where it would be appropriate to award the try. SBW acted instinctively from Rugby League https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9K5_IlQISc

    Reply
  •  andinov
    andinov

    I'm sorry to say this but it should have been a penalty try. N.O. explanation is that Zebo made contact first, then Ashton, hence a knock on. For Zebo, as the defending player, he has to have a reasonable expectation to be able to catch the ball in order for it to be considered an accidental knock back. He went for it with one hand only, with fingers only under the ball. He had no chance of catching it. The fact that Ashton committed his offence (knock on) after Zebo should make no difference.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    The zebo incident is open to interpretation. Fair to go with the ref on this one. The Murray try was fine. Guirado was not part of the ruck when he played the ball. If he was it would have been a penalty to Munster and a try scored anyway. He picks the ball up but does not remove it from the ruck. If its a knock on then advantage Munster, ruck over and a Munster try. If he didn't knock it on, it still stayed in the ruck and as he was not part of the ruck, the ruck would not have been over, so a penalty to Toulon for Murray offside. What was odd, was that the TMO originally, said it was clearly a knock on, then Owens asked him if he was sure. The TMO then seemed to say it didn't go forward, but then said it did, so Owens gave the try. Not sure if the TMO knew what they were doing.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Here I go again...Sorry RD The other aspect is the language around these days. Decisions here have been described as "controversial". Simon Zebo incident - for me it's 50/50. Zebo was probably never going to be able to get a clean take on that, but he had to try, the hand wasn't trying to bash the ball into touch, but the result was just that... Really, for me it has to come down to the referee has the final word. Bastareud run, Ashton try - personally don't see much wrong there - again, perhaps 50/50 on the pass, but it was either flat, very slightly back, or very slightly forward... Again, referees call. Murray try - zero controversy.. everyone looked confused, but it seems only one man had studied that law the night before and that's Murray... Ball knocked on,.he picks it up, try scored.. no.issues there. Didn't watch the whole match, but it seems to me based on those incidents, the match was called very well..

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Couldn't agree more.. but, this is no longer a game, this is a business, people must be held accountable for failures. We have hundreds of cameras dotted about to overule decisions left right and centre. Rather than the day and age of "get on with it" we're now heading into the realms of having a pause in the game whilst we head off to a conference to view all angles, get the forensics teams in to check for any marks indicated area the ball may have been etc. Someone used the word "intervention" in a video on the Wade incident - it's a fantastic word for what we see, rather than the game becoming more.fluid, we have more.reasons for stoppages, more reasons for penalties, cards, bans. The referees word is no longer final - some people love it, I hate it.. in the 6 nations we world rugby come out and say a decision a referee made was wrong.. the problem with all of that is that with the umpteen cameras dotted about, people can now make their own calls on the referees performances, they'll complain furiously and all of a sudden someone official had to answer these complaints... It's sad.

    Reply
  •  albertabound
    albertabound

    It's very difficult to establish intent. The TMO, touch judge and Nigel all agreed that it didn't look intentional. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. What's really irking me recently is the amount of whinging supposed fans are doing post game. I remember when Jared Payne was red carded in the QF against Saracens a few years ago. It didn't agree with a red. It sucked. But I never once blamed the ref for Ulster's loss. These things balance themselves out over time. If you want to continuously whine about a refs decision, go watch some fruitball.

    Reply

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Controversies galore as Munster knock out Toulon with brilliant late try | RugbyDump