Toland disappointed at Owens's response to article
FORMER LEINSTER captain and Irish Times columnist Liam Toland has expressed his disappointment at the reaction of international referee Nigel Owens to a column he wrote in the newspaper on Monday. In the article following Ireland’s defeat to New Zealand in Christchurh, Toland pointed out what he saw as inconsistencies in interpreting the laws of the game by Owens and listed them throughout the match.
“wish he wd rite the facts and not guess what he thinks it should be. Maybe he shoould ask for clarification before printing lies,” tweeted the Welsh referee.
“I am very disappointed at the reaction of a very respected international referee like Nigel Owens’ to my article in the Irish Times,” said Toland last night. “I am disappointed in what he said and how he reacted and especially that he said in his Tweets that I wrote lies in the paper. I did not.
“In fact the article I wrote was based on my knowledge and experiences as a rugby player and I believe I made a strong effort to make it balanced. I began by saying that this was not the muttering of a disappointed rugby fan but about the interpretation of the laws. The beauty of the game is that it is not governed by rules but laws that are open to interpretation. Some of his interpretations were favourable to Ireland and I highlighted those in the article, but of course that’s not the point as consistency is what a team craves.
“However I felt that certain interpretations became inconsistent such as the ruling on Dan Carter’s tackle of Brian O’Driscoll, where the All Black outhalf swing-tackles him to the deck and while remaining in contact, swings back to his feet, failing to disengage. The subsequent recycle takes 10 seconds and the All Blacks are back in position; danger averted.”
Owens engaged in a long line of chat on Twitter and was asked if he had read Toland’s article.
“Ye i have, and what he has written on the hole is totally wrong in law and in what actually happend or was given,” said the referee adding: “and is this Liam guy a ref? cos what he has written is wrong in law and in actual fact . . . can u imagine if i wrote something on a proffesion i aint even qualified on let alone tried at the top level and was wrong.”
Owen also added that he believed that an Irish bias was included in the article.
“ . . . remeber a supporter or pundit form that country will alwasy come down on his own side. its only natural.”
Toland responded: “Again I’m very disappointed at being accused of bias. I’d ask him to read the article in its entirity. I’d ask him to please tell me where I was wrong. Tell me because I don’t know. The laws are open to interpretation and that is the way the assessors sitting in the stands will see it. I am not accusing him of perverting the outcome of the match. But precendents were set during the match, for example in the early scrums. Then the Irish scrum destroys the New Zealand scrum and he gives a penalty against Ireland.
“Ben Franks lost his bind at the end and the openside flanker Sam Cane was coming away from him. Cian Healy was scrummaging legally. It is not Cian Healy’s fault that Franks dropped his bind. It was like the recent US Open where you were punished missing the fairways. Ireland put New Zealand into the rough but did not reap the rewards.
“The margins are so small at this level that the referee’s interpretation is crucial. That said, where an obvious advantage exists such as England’s scrum over Ireland’s in Twickenham, then the rewards should favour the stronger. To win in New Zealand, – and this is not an Irish point as I’m sure France may feel similarly – that interpretation should fall evenly. There are many other incidents worthy of discussion but in the interests of fairness to Owens he may not have had the same view as I did on TV so I ignored them.”
OWENS'S TWEETS ABOUT TOLAND
“and is this Liam guy a ref ? cos what he has written is wrong in law and in actual fact. id be in court for slander if i did same”
“if asked for confirmation on about 5 of the points he made, he wd have the correct answer but then wouldnt have an article wd he”
“wish he wd rite the facts and not guess what he thinks it should be. Maybe he shoould ask for clarification before printing lies”