Exeter star Joe Simmonds was at the centre of a controversial ending to a dramatic Premiership clash with Northampton Saints on Saturday.
The fly-half had a touchline conversion to win the game for the Chiefs but after referee Christophe Ridley ruled that Simmonds had begun his run up to kick the ball, Saints players advanced and simply kicked it out to win the match.
Despite protests from Simmonds and Exeter’s Stuart Hogg, Northampton celebrated a huge 12-13 win at Sandy Park.
💪 Simmonds prepares for his match-winning conversion
😨 Referee Christophe Ridley rules that he started his run-up
🏃♂️ Northampton rush up
💥 Sleightholme boots the ball into touch
🙅♂️ Ridley blows the whistle
🙌 Northampton win!
Madness in #EXEvNOR! 😵#GallagherPrem pic.twitter.com/yvrJo95ltj
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) February 20, 2021
The incident was reminiscent of Peter Stringer’s cheeky charge down on Wallabies star James O’Connor while playing for the Barbarians back in 2011.
Huge talking point to end the @ExeterChiefs v @SaintsRugby game. Conversion to win it with the last kick and Saints look to have charged early before Joe Simmonds moves. The ref Christophe Ridley doesn’t check with the TMO why?
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) February 20, 2021
Not sure Joe Simmonds started his approach there. Just wiggled his shoulders a bit as he tends to do. Could / should ref go to TMO for that? Just to be sure? Big call. @WayneBarnesRef @premrugby
— Rupert Cox (@RupertCoxTV) February 20, 2021
I think one of the great things about rugby is the referee is respected. But today Christophe Ridley dropped a major bollock. Joe Simmonds twitched but didn’t start his run in my opinion.
— Neil Fissler (@neilfissler) February 20, 2021
1. Exeter didn’t deserve to win that game v Northampton
2. Joe Simmonds hadn’t started his run up
— Linebreak Rugby 🥞 (@LinebreakRugby) February 21, 2021
Crazy finish. Referee Christophe Ridley ruled that Joe Simmonds had started his run-up for a match-winning conversion, Northampton rush up and Sleightholme boots the ball into touch, game over. Ridley straight down the tunnel. Simmonds never moved. #EXEvNOR
— Ben Coles (@bencoles_) February 20, 2021