Monday, January 09, 2012

Referee Nigel Owens - 'This is not Soccer'

Munster beat Benetton Treviso with a bonus point 29-11 victory in their RaboDirect Pro 12 encounter at Thomond Park on Saturday night. One of the moments that stood out was this amusing piece of officiating from Welsh referee Nigel Owens.

Owens, a stand-up comic in his spare time, has never been shy to tell it like it is on the rugby field. About a year ago he called both teams into a huddle around him and told them all off.

In this game he pulled chirpy Treviso scrum half Tobias Botes aside and read him the riot act, introducing himself as the referee and going on to suggest that Botes thought they were engaged in a game of Soccer.

One might say that making such an example of a player in a deliberately humourous way when knowing the game is broadcast on TV is a little much, but it is good to see him take a stand against football-like protestations, that it's safe to say nobody appreciates seeing on a rugby field.

His outspoken nature caused a bit of a stir shortly before Christmas however, as Ospreys coach Scott Johnson took exception to Owens' use of social media. Johnson accused Owens of undermining his own authority by engaging with Welsh players and supporters on Twitter.

"It is driving me absolutely nuts it is permitted to continue and the sport can do without this. We have officials in places of supposed power, but we don't need to learn their private business," Johnson said of Owens' habit of sharing his personal thoughts and feelings with his followers.

During the Rugby World Cup, at one stage he tweeted his support for Wales, and shortly after the tournament shared the personal news that his partner had split up with him and he was struggling to lift himself up for work.

"When you turn up at a game to play rugby, we have to respect the officials. But the respect button is not an easy one to turn on and off. We don't need them in conversations with the players through these social networking sites," Johnson continued.

"When I get 17-year-olds mocking the behaviour of officials, that is not good for our sport. It has gone completely too far. This is about the integrity of our sport.

"Last year he apologised for a forward pass he missed against us that Richard Fussell scored a try from. The public doesn't need to know that. It is out of control."

Below is the amusing incident with Botes, that Owens himself shared on his Facebook page. What do you think of officials sharing their thoughts and emotions through social media channels?


Posted by Rugbydump at 10:14 am | View Comments (56)

Posted in Funnies

Viewing 56 comments

bennylowe09 January 09, 2012 12:01 pm

That is class! Perfect by the ref

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Steve January 09, 2012 12:07 pm

I agree, perfectly well said. I fail to see why football refs cant do the same!

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kefaloskev January 09, 2012 12:51 pm

Well said Nigel Owens! Get the feeling that at least one player got the message and will not forget it; perhaps a few of Nigel's colleagues could borrow the same phrase!

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rugby08 January 09, 2012 1:04 pm

Why doesn't he say that when he refs the allblacks...

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mihnea January 09, 2012 1:08 pm

yes , this is not soccer . great piece of reff , and very assertive .

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moddeur January 09, 2012 1:40 pm

Way to go, Nigel Owens!
And about social networking, who cares ... a few years back even Ahmadinejad (the "president" of Iran) had his own blog.
I don't mind a referee giving intimate details about his life, but I do mind a team owner trying to be vulgar when condemning refs (cf. Boudjelal, Toulon's president, who said yesterday that he was "sodomized by the ref's decisions" in his team's defeat to Clermont). Seeing as Toulon scored a dodgy try in that game, I think Boudjelal should put up a better display.

PS: maybe RD can put a video about that try, it comes from a restart kick-off at the center of play, Clermont kicks, the ball doesn't travel 10m, a Clermont player touches it at a distance of 8 meters, but doesn't get a hold of it, then a Toulon player picks it up and goes and scores a try, everyone else thinking play had stopped. The IRB states that play can continue if the kickoff travels 10m or if the opposite team plays the ball (not the kicking team). Perhaps the referee played some sort of non-written advantage law about kick-offs, or am I missing something?

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Fettsack January 09, 2012 1:55 pm

Football refs could get much more respect from the players if they talked to the players and made them shut up like this.

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Pretzel January 09, 2012 2:32 pm

I have no problem with what Nigel Owens did, in fact because it is televised I think it makes it that bit more of precedent!

I've had referee's do the same in my matches...

Agree that football referee's should do the same!

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LeighH January 09, 2012 2:36 pm

Ah Nigel Owens is such a legend. He came to my school a few weeks ago and was still hilarious then

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Pretzel January 09, 2012 3:11 pm

Actually, I do disagree with the social networking stuff....

I get sick of players etc undermining referees on social networking sites, it seems to be very prevalent in soccer too, I read the bbc news quite a bit and hear how soccer players are "tweeting" their support for a fellow player who has done something or other...

I find that sort of stuff disgraceful. Players should get support ofcourse, but to publicly undermine an officials decision is wrong.

Look at any rugby match end of game interview, when the losing team are interviewed after something "controversial" has happened. The player keeps his cool, he puts across his RESERVED opinion, but backs it up with, "but we will have to review it later," or at least says "thats just the way things go" or "we have to respect the referee's decision" i.e SOMETHING respectful.

Now we have the armitage tool (not sure which one) tweeting his disgust at a refereeing decision (like a footballer!)

AND Nigel Owens APOLOGISING for missing a forward pass...

Professionalism in my opinion is killing the game. I has never been a perfect game, i.e follow the rules to the dot! but it has always worked. Now with 50,000 cameras and millions of people watching it becomes a game of perfection, or attempted perfection, laws being made every other month to try and stamp out a particular EXPLOITED aspect of the game. Referee's trying to penalise anything and everything to make things FAIR...

Any way, back to social networking, my worst opinion of it is that it is busy body stuff for people who wish to know others business without having to ask, at best its just ANOTHER tool to contact people (dont we have email, mobiles, home phones, skype, fax's etc already?!?!) and I am not a fan of it at all.

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The Green Mafia January 09, 2012 3:51 pm

Genius from Owen. I certainly think all this "it's very hard to respect a referee that post his life online" is a piece of bullshit. If referees have the composure and professionalism to go out on the field and treat players that have a reputation of true gentlemen of the game in the same manner that they treat twats like Sapolu, Powell, Bakkies, Cudmore et and all, why shouldn't players respect ALL referees, regardless of their personal life problems outside of rugby? Grow up, you are allways demanding the world from referees, start demanding more of yourselves aswell

PS- Now I've vented some of my frustrations, I love seing a referee that can impose some respect on the field, especially if he can do that without making the game all about him and do it with a bit of humour, even

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BuzzKillington January 09, 2012 4:21 pm

Refereeing in Rugby is abysmal, some of the worst in the world of sport, players have a right to be annoyed with the amateur nature of Rugby officiating. The problem for Rugby is not that the referees are catching too much flack, it's that Rugby refs are a protected species, because of this silly ethos of taking the respecting of the referees decisions to the extreme.

The problem Rugby is facing is that the rulebook itself is crap, and unworkable. Either the laws are enforced and Rugby fans complain that the game has turned into American Football with the whistle going every 20 seconds, or we change the rules of the game to avoid the former, and then Rugby fans will complain the game is turning into Rugby League.

Rugby as it stands now is farcical, with referees allowing both teams to cheat to avoid a stop-start fest. If a referee was to blow his whistle every time the law was broken all the Rugby fans would complain and the IRB would demote him, even though the referee's role is to police the game. In reality the rules of the game are breached on a professional Rugby field about every 10 seconds.

Owens is a moron too. I bet he planned to say that and was just waiting for an opportunity to get himself back in the spotlight.

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stroudos January 09, 2012 5:43 pm

Buzz, I'm afraid I disagree with almost every single word of your post.

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Pretzel January 09, 2012 6:29 pm

I'm with stroudos, I disagree...

As I mentioned earlier, rugby has never been an easy cut and dry game... Put it this way, in cricket for instance you can focus on one person at a time, the bowler runs in, does he step over the mark? no, ok carry on... the ball travels down the strip, is it wide etc? no, ok carry on.... etc etc... when it comes to LBW's etc is when it gets more complicated, hence why technology has come in.

Rugby, at any one moment of time you can have 30 men in one spot on a rugby pitch with one ball, and referees only have their 2 eyes... (and if they are lucky they have 4 more from the touch judges) yet they are expected to see EVERY single thing going on....

How many times have you watched a game and completely missed something blatant thats been picked up by a camera...

I said it previously that professionalism has brought in more eyes and more cameras, but there is still only one referee... everyone sits on their sofa pointing out blatant hands which YES could warrant the whistle being blown, but do we really want the game to stop and start like American football?

Players are being less and less able to dish out their own justice (i.e step on that hand) but the referees have not been given any more powers to compensate for that lack of justice.... so naturally the game slows, players get frustrated, they get away with more and start to behave like spoilt brats!

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BuzzKillington January 10, 2012 9:52 am

Yes, you do. You want the rules enforced(Like American Football), or you change the rules so that we aren't playing a game marred by constant cheating.

You can't blame players for cheating when you're effectively saying that you want a game in which players are allowed to break the law, because a) You don't actually want referees to enforce the rules (ala American football) and b) You don't want the laws of the game changed because that too would change the nature of the game.

I'm not sure how you can disagree with everything I've said, without living in a world where you're unable to self criticise. It's quite obvious that the standards of refereeing in Rugby are terrible, with so many rules broken in the first few minutes of a game that you'll lose count by the 5th. It's also quite obvious that the rules aren't enforced properly. It's quite obvious that Rugby fans don't want a Rugby in which the rules are enforced. It's also obvious that letting a game be marred by unpunished cheating is farcical and reflects badly on Rugby - To actively encourage unpunished cheating as a cornerstone of the game(which you are doing, though I doubt you even realise it), even more so.

To sit here and slam players Pretzel, while then saying "do we really want the game to stop and start like American Football" is a massive hypocrisy on your part. Either you want players to follow the rules and referees to enforce rules or you don't.

Don't slam the bloody players for cheating but then turn around and support the referees and the rugby establishment in NOT enforcing the rules, because you think enforcing the rules will hurt the game lol. If a game is unwilling to police the game properly then cheats will prosper, ala soccer. What you're saying is comical, only a rugby person can't see the ridiculousness of your position. You can't slam cheats while supporting the institutions in the game that encourage cheating and refuse to punish cheating.

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BuzzKillington January 10, 2012 9:57 am

You can't have your cake and eat it, is what I'm saying. If you want to slam cheats then you must also hold the people who run the game accountable and demand that they enforce the rules as best they can. Instead you concede that you don't want the institutions to enforce the laws anyway, because you want a free-flowing game. Unfortunately it's a case of either-or. Either you support cheating or you don't - It seems you do.

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Full Back January 10, 2012 1:22 pm

@Buzz, judging from a number of posts it's seems that you don't seem to enjoy rugby that much. I play and watch it and there's nothing so outrageous going on that the rules need to be changed, it's anything but farcical and is gaining fans year in year out.
What I think has changed is that people in general tend to whine more, and are less tolerant in general.
A part of Rugby, and a positive part as far as I'm concerned, is that like life, it's not always fair but you do just have to deal with it and carry on. As far as I'm concerned 9/10 games have just outcomes, in that the stronger team generally wins on the day.

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BuzzKillington January 12, 2012 10:53 am

It's not outrageous because we're all used to it, and everyone is effectively brainwashed into accepting that fervent cheating is just part of the game.

If a non-Rugby fan saw this conversation I assure you he'd find your defence of inept refereeing a real laugh.

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Richprs January 10, 2012 1:27 pm

Buzz, you may think that standards of refereeing are abysmal which I disagree with totally but what grates about your comment is that for some reason you would not want to see refereeing decisions respected? As per your comment 'silly ethos of taking the respecting of the referees decisions to the extreme'.

Other than bowing down and kissing the ref's boots I don't see any player taking respect to the referee to the extreme. And as answering back and swearing at a ref a la football never results in a change to the ref's decision in what world would a lack of respect enhance the refereeing of a game anyway?

If you espouse the blatant disrespect shown to referees as in soccer then I'm afraid you should go and play that game instead because I for one thoroughly appreciate the respect shown to referees, regardless of the decisions made. Its called sportsman like behaviour and it should be promoted not criticised.

As you have also said that rugby as a sport is 'farcical' and that owens is a 'moron' I conclude that you are a bit hysterical and that your comments should be taken with a healthy dose of salt. Taken respectfully that is.

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BuzzKillington January 12, 2012 10:59 am

@Rich , I didn't say that Rich, instead I said the opposite. Nobody is espousing disrespect to referees, soccer referees or otherwise.

If you'd bothered to read my comments instead of making an emotion based defence of Rugby like a little girl you'd have realised that I've repeatedly praised the NFL. The NFL is one of the best officiated games in all of sport and respect for referees is high.

But I'll tell you why respect for referees in the NFL is high, because the referees earn it. They get decisions right, almost all the time. Cheating is not accepted in the game. In contrast cheating is common place in the game of Rugby, some people even promote it because they think cheating is a corner stone of the game. If these people are prepared to support cheating, and the IRB and referees prepared to allow it, then nobody should be surprised that respect for the refs is diminishing.

My comments are the only rational ones in this discussion!

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Pretzel January 10, 2012 2:31 pm

Buzz its not that I enjoy cheating or I condone cheating its just the game that I grew up playing, and loved was a game where players chose NOT to cheat because it was the more honourable thing to do, and the fact that they chose NOT to cheat when they easily could have done made the game flow a lot better. Nowadays with professionalism and "winning is everything" attitude where (as I said before) personal justice is not allowed to be handed out players cheat at EVERY opportunity, and really the whole thing spoils the game. The game itself is less enjoyable to watch due to the cheating, yet if it was penalised at every opportunity then it would be less enjoyable... A paradox perhaps?

I also mentioned in a previous post that the game I know was a scrappy dark arts sort of game, that was the game I enjoyed, the part where players DO or CAN cheat, yet if caught by others players will suffer the consequences. I truly believe that was the time when rugby was at its best. You would get players who try and win back the ball by being on the wrong side, but they well and truly put their body on the line by doing so, and I feel that was the best times.

It is not a case of either-or really, its a case of bring back the old rules where players are allowed to ruck people out the way, don't be so card happy over a bit of fisty cuffs, etc... and really in someways reset the game to how it WAS.

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BuzzKillington January 12, 2012 11:05 am

@Pretzel. That's fine but I disagree, I would rather the rules were enforced. I don't believe that if you cynically enforced every rule that it would ruin the game - players would soon get the message and stop cheating. Just as in the NFL cheating is very rare because players know what will happen.

Until referees properly enforce the rules(the IRB can come up with a way to better ref the game I'm sure) then there shouldn't be any surprise to learn that players are frustrated with inconsistent and often non-existent refereeing in the face of blatant cheating.

If Nigel Owens did that, in stead of thinking up ways to get himself in the media spotlight, then my respect for him would be far reaching.

When I talk about respect I obviously mean on the internet, or generally. I don't run around the field questioning ref integrity or abusing them in any way. Strangely enough that's one of the few breaches of the rules that they do clamp down on ;)

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Pretzel January 15, 2012 11:43 pm

So effectively, a game where McCaw is ruled out, Cudmore would receive a red for just getting changed before the match, any players likely to put in big tackles wouldn't for the fear of red cards. A stop start game (more so than it is already becoming).

Do you play? have you ever had a referee say before the game how he will try and keep it flowing by talking to players during the game?

Jimothy really summed up NFL below and I believe rugby will head that way if you really want referee's to become so picky and pedantic. (or indeed have more official eyes)

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Pretzel January 15, 2012 11:47 pm

Just to add, have you ever watched the superbowl? honestly, i thought it would be a good laugh one year, i turned it off after about 8 mins....

the amount of shitty advertisements EVERY time the ball stops was killing me....

The scrappy nature of rugby means stuff happens that referee's miss, the scrum half slightly knocks it forward at the base of a ruck, ball gets dropped in a maul, etc etc etc, there would be scrum/penalties all sorts every play if the refs blew up on everything.

As for your beef with Nigel Owens, I think it's something you have personally got going on, because as stated below i get the impression he would do this in an amateur game!

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Jimothy January 11, 2012 9:20 pm

@ Buzz,

are you a ref? do you have any refereeing experience? As someone who has for a short period of time I can judge from your comments that I would have sent you off by now!

I've refereed low end rugby for a while and am please that the majority of players I do have a healthy respect for the fact that I AM HUMAN! Yes I miss things but I am fair. I play to the letter of the law everything I see but fortunately for me I do not ref such a high paced game where I could not possibly keep up.

If you don't have respect for the ref can I suggest you go play another sport? Respectfully, obviously.

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BuzzKillington January 12, 2012 11:09 am

@Jimothy, really Jimothy, really? This conversation feels not too different to criticising the government and being confronted by a bunch of fanatical hicks telling you to "GIT OUT!"

You can like a game while seeing room for improvement and disagreeable aspects of the rules, you know?

I'm entitled to view refereeing standards in professional rugby as being terrible. I'm not sure anyone really disagrees, just that many people happen to thing its better to have unenforced rules than enforced rules, because of the nature of the game.

Is asking that the game be refereed to the rule book really anti-Rugby, is it really controversial?

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Jimothy January 13, 2012 9:13 pm

Really Buzz, 'a bunch of fanatical hicks' seems like a slightly over the top reaction. You seem to be getting a lit upset by the fact that we simply disagree with you and don't think you appreciate that without these people there would be no game.

I am surprised that as you are sooo right that so few people have jumped to your defence and joined this thread.

As for comparing NFL to rugby...
Seven officials ON THE FIELD
Average time the ball spends in play = 11 minutes (Google it if you don't believe me)
Average length of a game = 3 hours

So you can keep your NFL and I'll keep Rugby and hopefully I'll have some time left to do something else.

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Full Back January 14, 2012 11:54 am

What you would "rather" seems to be to watch NFL and're free to do so.
You're a little arrogant with how you express your opinions, in my opinion

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ChillDoubt January 15, 2014 7:38 pm

As you're obviously brilliant when it comes to enforcing the rules and know all about foul play, why not put your money where your mouth is and do the course?
The game is crying out for refs with 20/20 vision who never get a single decision wrong.
During the interim period before completing the Level 1 course, why not wake up and smell what you're shovelling?

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sithepie January 09, 2012 4:23 pm

Cracking refereeing. He's right, it's not soccer, rugby refs (generally) get the respect they deserve on the rugby field and I truly hope it stays that way.

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Erik January 09, 2012 4:27 pm

Thumbs up for the ref, thumbs down for whino Johnson. It takes a man to admit his mistakes, but I guess Johnson is a member of the 'I'm always right crowd'.

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stroudos January 09, 2012 5:45 pm

I despise that whole imaginary card-waving bullshit. Have seen it a few times in rugby though - John Smit on a couple of occasions springs to mind.

That and the play-acting have totally destroyed my enjoyment of football. Rugby is now well on the way to accepting this sort of thing and I think it will now be impossible to reverse the trend.

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Matthew January 09, 2012 5:57 pm

Clearly we need more referees like Nigel Owens!

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Matthew January 09, 2012 5:56 pm

Clearly we need more referees like Nigel Owens!

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Sangdue January 09, 2012 7:56 pm

Love it... R E S P E C T to the ref...

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cheyanqui January 09, 2012 8:13 pm

Brilliant. Almost as funny as the referee who reached into his pocket, for a handkerchief -- it's on RugbyDump somewhere -- was that Owens too?

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Pretzel January 09, 2012 8:45 pm

Almost 100% sure it wasn't owens, been searching for that video and can't find it anywhere but I know EXACTLY which one it is, watching players in the background clapping as they thought the referee was about to pull out a card was priceless!

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Rugbydump January 09, 2012 10:32 pm

Here's the link. It was Sean Davey though, not Nigel Owens. Hilarious all the same. Referee makes his point

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cheyanqui January 10, 2012 4:18 am

Cheers RD for the quick response.

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Ronan January 09, 2012 8:18 pm

not owens biggest fan, i think he could do with someone sitting him down and remind him hes a rugby referee and not a celeb.....

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Pretzel January 09, 2012 8:46 pm

I like to think that he would do the same thing in a bog standard amateur club match, therefore I have no qualms with this incident.

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The Green Mafia January 09, 2012 8:51 pm

@ Ronan: Come on! loads of everyday, ordinary people post things about their lives, often way worse that what he posted, and no1 gives a rat's arse. He does it and hes a wannabe celeb? Atention seeker? Hard to respect as a professional referee because he has problems outside rugby? It's not as he posted pictures of himself drunk, or talked about injustice in rugby being the same thing as the Holocaust, or nazism. Didn't see Scott Johnson crying in outrage then, and the Sapolu event is much more damaging to the sport. Same goes for the entire conduct of the English side. Who is Scott Johnson to take it upon himself to be such a moral authority in the rugby world?

Although I agree that refereeing must be regulated to impose standarts and that law interpretation must be uniformed wherever you are playing (North or Southern Hemispheres), I must say that both players and club officials allow themselves too much when talking to or about referees both on and off the field. That IS a lot like football. We're even starting to see some players walking to the refs and arguing about their decisions.

Also, what's with the double standard? When Quade Cooper, injured, SMACKS A WOMAN while drunk, club officials rush in his defence and oafs like Euan McKenzie say, quote "What do you want him to do - stay at home? He can't just sit in his lounge all day. He's got to be able to celebrate and do stuff like everybody else.". But Owens tweets some stuff about having problems in his personal life and now it's hard to respect him as a professional?

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Ingmar January 10, 2012 1:07 am

you sir have a very good point..

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i love bacon January 10, 2012 3:14 am

Unlike with Buzz's post, I agree with pretty much everything you just said.

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i love bacon January 10, 2012 3:24 am

Scrumhalves could use a good talking down to every now and again. They complain more than anyone else on the pitch (except for Paul O'Connell, that is).

While Owens can be a bit ostentatious from time to time, this is not one of those times. It was condescending but succinct and to the point, just what the situation called for. Well done.

Oh, and Scott Johnson sounds like a dick.

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cheyanqui January 10, 2012 4:20 am

If Billy Connolly had a love child with Mel Gibson's feathered hair (a la Lethal Weapon), you'd have Scott Johnson.

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stroudos January 10, 2012 1:24 pm

Fucking hell, that is hilarious! Nice one. :D

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cheyanqui January 10, 2012 4:22 am

Quade's smacking women. Quins chewing blood pills. POMs swapping out rugby balls before conversions.

It makes Nigel Owens's blogging (and Samoans wearing grey market mouthpieces for that matter) seem insignificant.

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Jeri January 11, 2012 1:13 pm

New found respect Mr. Owens. Well played :)

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mise January 13, 2012 11:57 pm

buzzkilington: the new james the convict. :-) (one for the oldies here on RD!)

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Pretzel January 15, 2012 11:48 pm

may very well be the old one for all we know (regarding the naming system)

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gerrard8630 January 17, 2012 3:08 pm

i have just started as a rugby referee after 6 years in football, i can honestly say i have never been held i such high regard when i'm refereeing rugby. you can have the odd player who talks out of turn but its very rare. as for nigel owens a TOP referee i think he likes to let the players know who's in charge! and why not? he IS!! another top referee is wayne barnes he will always stop the game and talk to the players and tell then who is boss. good on u nigel i just hope u are still l there when i reach the top level

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Alan November 08, 2014 5:28 pm

Nigel and other referees that may have the oppotunity to referee a New Zealand match. Accepting the fact that they are fantastic side but please open your eyes to how New Zealand play the game! They cross the line too often, professional fouls, off-side, off the ball incidents and in particulr Richie Macaw who in my opinion is a " cheat" and should be sin binned every game that he plays in. Just play back the games and analyse his play!!! today within 16 minutes he was penalised twice! Wake up you referees and stop being intimidated by the All Blacks and start applying the laws!!!

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