Nigel Owens has clarified why he believes Johnny May’s try against Italy should have been disallowed.
The England winger produced an acrobatic finish to score England’s third try against Italy in their recent Six Nations encounter by jumping to the try line.
While May’s finish received much praise for its athleticism, there has been some debate over whether the try should have stood, as it is illegal for players to avoid a tackle by jumping.
I’m a bit late to this, but if Johnny May is short of the line then its a penalty Italy for jumping into a tackle. IMO this was all one spectacular act of scoring a try. But the laws are being stretched to limit. pic.twitter.com/uG1oNdlKaJ
— Paul Jennings (@pauliceref) February 14, 2021
Owens, who recently retired from officiating international rugby, believes the try should have been disallowed as he reckons May jumped to avoid the onrushing Italian defender.
“If Jonny May dives to score then play on and try. If he jumps up first to avoid the tackle then it’s a penalty. So in my humble opinion it should be no try and [penalty kick] to Italy,” Owens tweeted.
If Jonny May dives to score then play on and try. If he jumps up first to avoid the tackle then it’s a penalty. So in my humble opinion it should be no try and pk to Italy
— Nigel Owens MBE (@Nigelrefowens) February 14, 2021
Decision-making process behind allowing the try
Owens was speaking on World Rugby’s Whistle Watch and explained why referee Mike Adamson and his officiating team decided to award the try.
“There’s been a lot of talk about Jonny May’s try. Now what you can’t do is jump into or jump over a tackle or would-be tackler, the same as you can’t dive or jump over a ruck to score a try.
“You need to decide if you think that Jonny May has actually jumped to avoid the tackle, then it should be no try. If you think he has done it in the action of scoring a try, then the try stands.
“Mike Adamson and his team of officials looked at it, they decided that he dived to score the try and therefore the try stands,” Owens explained.
While you could certainly argue that May’s try should not have been allowed to stand, there’s no denying it was an impressive finish from the prolific England winger.