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Rugby

Owens got decisions wrong in big games against the All Blacks | Alan Quinlan

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

11:35 17 Oct 2019


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The match referee for Ireland's clash with New Zealand in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final, all eyes will be on Nigel Owens and his performance in what is expected to be a confrontational affair. 

No stranger to matches of this magnitude, Nigel Owens has some experience of refereeing Ireland's games against the All Blacks.

Across 2012/13, the Welsh native oversaw three such games where the New Zealanders came out on top every time.

An admirer of Owens' proficiency, Alan Quinlan is nevertheless concerned that the match referee is in for a testing day's work, and that contentious issues in the past have tended not to go Ireland's way.

"It's one I've thought about a lot during the week," he admitted on Thursday's OTB AM.

"He's an excellent referee, a good communicator and, I have to be careful what way I say this because it could be taken in the wrong way, but [New Zealand] are a very cynical side.

"I like that because it is a way of intimidating the opposition, a way of pressurising the opposition and pushing the laws, [but] there's no way Nigel Owens can pick up everything."

Highlighting Ireland's discipline and the performance of Wayne Barnes during the defeat of the All Blacks in Dublin last year, Quinlan highlighted previous times when Ireland have not been quite as fortunate.

"We've got a couple of decisions against us in big games when we should have beaten them," he recalled. "In 2012, [Nigel Owens] penalised Cian Healy at scrum-time, but it should have been an Irish penalty and it was blatantly obvious watching it back.

"Ireland were winning, but New Zealand went up the field and got a drop-goal to win the game.

"In 2013 then in Dublin, Jack McGrath was penalised for going off his feet at the end of the game when that happens a lot in matches where it's not picked up.

"I wouldn't have any concerns, but sometimes he's just got to be strong."

A game that is expected to go in the All Blacks' favour, Quinlan suggested that the performance of Nigel Owens will ultimately determine a great deal about which nation advances to the semi-finals.

"They can be influential in their presence and aura," he noted. "It's the All Blacks, they should win and sometimes the script is written like that. So, Owens has got to be strong and Ireland need to be squeaky clean.

"He's going to be a key influencer, the major influencer I think in which way the game goes in the end."

For a full preview of Ireland's game with New Zealand, check out Alan Quinlan here

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Alan Quinlan All Blacks Ireland Joe Schmidt Nigel Owens Rugby World Cup

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