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Nigel Owens bemoans two law changes that are ‘spoiling’ rugby

Nigel Owens law changes

Nigel Owens has claimed that the captain’s challenge and new red card law which sees a substitute introduced after 20 minutes are “spoiling the game”.

Owens is unhappy with the captain’s challenge that has come under much criticism in recent weeks, as several games in the Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup have seen significant TMO usage as a result of the law trial.

While both law changes are currently only being trialled for the Rainbow Cup and could both be removed after the tournament ends, Owens wrote in his column for WalesOnline that he fears it is turning people away from the sport.

‘People simply aren’t going to go to the stadium.

“We’re getting to the stage where sometimes on a weekend there is more time spent with referee in conversation with the TMO upstairs than there is actually ball in play time,” Owens wrote.

“That’s not a good look for a sport where fast pace, drama and moving on to the next phase in play are part of the huge appeal.

“We had a situation the other day where the second half of the Cardiff Blues versus Zebre game lasted 67 minutes. Yes, that’s fully 27 minutes more than should have been the case and from what I can see no-one was happy.

“This kind of thing is spoiling the game; everyone accepts a match can drag on a little when the clock goes red, but almost half an hour extra for a half of rugby?

“People simply aren’t going to go to the stadium if they know games are going to be dragging on and on like this.”

Nigel Owens on the new ‘orange card’.

While much less-maligned than the captain’s challenge, Owens is also unhappy about the new red card law which allows a substitute to be introduced for the carded player after 20 minutes, something which he has dubbed the “orange card”.

The Welshman believes that the severity of a red card should not be lessened just because people may “feel sorry” for the player that has been sent off.

“A red card should mean a red card. We’ve tried the orange card, when a player is sent off but can be replaced by a substitute after 20 minutes, but it doesn’t work for me so let’s bin that one too,” Owens commented.

“This is being trialled after coaches, pundits, players and fans have questioned some red card decisions, saying a player was a little bit unlucky to be sent off under the current laws, they feel sorry for him, that sort of thing.

“Nothing should be unlucky about a red card, it should be black and white in the eyes of the referee. If there is a grey area, then the particular law that applies needs to be looked at.”


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