Do Not Sell My Personal Information
RugbyDump RugbyDump
Wednesday Sep 5, 2018

That Niki Goneva 'dummy' was so good that he ruined it for himself

That Niki Goneva 'dummy' was so good that he ruined it for himself

On Sunday Saracens hosted Newcastle at Kingston Park on the opening round of the newly branded Gallagher Premiership. One of the key talking points was this bit of deception from Fijian ace Vereniki (Niki) Goneva, a moment that caused quite a stir.

After a failed drop kick attempt from Owen Farrell, winger Goneva collected the ball and instead of dotting it down as one would have expected, he pretended to by placing the ball on his boot.

Referee Ian Tempest, and just about everyone else, missed the sleight of hand, so when 34-year-old Goneva set off untouched on what eventually became a 110m run down field for a try, he blew his whistle for the 22-metre drop out.

Clearly unsighted, Tempest could only have assumed that Goneva had touched it down.

When asked about it, he referred to Goneva’s act of gamesmanship as a ‘game value offence’, an unfamiliar phrase but one that obviously referred to Section 26 of Law 9 that states: “A player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship.”

It seemed to be a flustered reaction, after he realised he had missed what actually happened.

Tempest came under a lot of criticism for this, with many suggesting he should have let things play out and then checked with his assistants or the TMO to see what really happened.

“When Niki Goneva didn’t touch down I’m amazed that he didn’t allow it to play out and then go to the TMO afterwards,” said Newcastle Falcons director of rugby, Dean Richards. 

“That would have been the right thing to do. I don’t know what a game value offence is, but if it’s an offence shouldn’t he be penalised for it?”

Unfortunately for Goneva, and the Falcons, the deception really was too good.

So the game restarted with a 22m drop out, when the ball never actually touched the ground, and Tempest knew it. All in all, it was a tricky refereeing situation. If only he hadn’t blown that whistle.

The BT Sport commentary team were split on the sportsmanship at hand, with commentator Ugo Monye praising the creativity, believing Goneva should have been rewarded for what he did.

“That’s nonsense! I always dreamed of this,” he said. “I always dreamed of faking and putting the ball down and looking at the ref, I used to do it in training all the time.”

It was also discussed post match, as seen in this BT Sport clip below (UK only)

credit: btsport


  • drg
    3:28 PM 07/09/2018

    Yeh I agree with you regarding the referee wording. Either that or just blanket refuse to comment on it and say "I already blew my whistle".

  • pickay
    10:58 AM 07/09/2018

    Right. He fooled everybody, including the ref, so no wonder he blew the whistle for a 22. So nice try, unlucky for Goneva that the ref wasn't on board. I don't blame the ref for missing it, it was surely hard to see and clearly an unexpected move. But his justification claiming a "game value offence" is nonsense, in my opinion. He should have just owned up to it and admitted that he missed the sneaky move, but that now the call was already made and play was already halted, so take it from there.

  • drg
    10:44 AM 07/09/2018

    I watched the video with no sound originally, I hadn't realised the referee had blown the whistle. To me that's it, it's not unknown for a referee to make a bad decision, but the whistle goes and that's the end of it. You can say it's a bad call, but if it was disguised well and the referee couldn't see, then if he blows the whistle that's that.. I think as far as the laws are concerned, I think the referee just covered himself and used a nice blanket law, which actually thinking about it, is probably my favourite law, it allows the most flexibility in the game and creates the least amount of loopholes! So again, no issue with the trick, think the referee made a cheeky recovery to his whistle blow, perhaps he should have said "I had already blown the whistle, end of!" Or something. But again, if you dummy things, expect the natural reaction: Dummy run, expect to fool someone and get smashed. Dummy this, expect to fool everyone including the referee... Make sure he sees you doing it..

  • colombes
    10:34 AM 07/09/2018

    Bullshit decision. But he should have played the ref The essence of creativity is to achieve untraditional things into very traditional rules.

  • greycourt
    10:09 AM 07/09/2018

    pretty sure this is a Carlos Spencer trick from like 15 years ago...

  • gonzoman
    8:08 PM 06/09/2018

    I'm with DrG on this one - if you're going to do something really unexpected and cheeky, you'd better make sure the ref can see what you're doing. Otherwise, be creative but play the whistle. Whistle goes, you stop. Whistle doesn't go, play on!

  • im1
    8:05 AM 06/09/2018

    I get the point in your first para. Surely the ref is meant to blow his whistle when the ball is touched down to signal that it has been touched down and that the restart will be a 22. So the defensive team should play to the refs whistle (and surely a verbal indication that the restart is a 22). If the ref says nothing and the player comes over the 22 then smash him.

  • drg
    1:29 AM 06/09/2018

    Really clever and creative, issue I have is that normally after a touch back like that, players are quick to run to the 22 to kick it.. so where does that leave oppo players, if he got smashed the referee could be looking to card the player for it... I think that is exactly the sort of issue we've got into with officious refereeing and the easily used cards. The laws have tried to be tighter and tighter that people get in knots and cards start getting flung about...


Great Tries

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

View All

See It To Believe It

View All


View All


View All

Player Features

View All
That Niki Goneva 'dummy' was so good that he ruined it for himself | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos