Nigel Owens defends decision to have a word with Simon Zebo after fingerpoint 1 year ago

Nigel Owens defends decision to have a word with Simon Zebo after fingerpoint

Rugby referee Nigel Owens has defended his decision to have a word with Simon Zebo after his pre-try fingerpoint towards Ulster full-back Michael Lowry in Racing's 44-12 win over the northern province last weekend.

Zebo ran in the fifth try of a 32-point victory in Paris but angered some of the Ulster players when he pointed his finger towards 20-year-old full-back Lowry prior to crossing the line.

Zebo apologised to both Owens and Lowry for his actions but Owens has since received criticism for talking to Zebo after the incident.

Former Ireland international Alan Quinlan said on OTB AM that Owens had no business in addressing Zebo over the incident and that those matters should be dealt with by the players while The Times columnist Tommy Conlon wrote that 'rugby’s superego' arrived on the scene when Owens addressed Zebo to 'reassert the game’s incorrigible self-importance'.

Owens defended his decision to address Zebo and dismissed the notion that he had a super ego.

This is not the first time Owens has angered former players through his on-field interactions with former Ireland and British & Irish Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald saying that Owens primary responsibility is to referee the game and not insert his personality on proceedings.

"I don't like it personally," Luke Fitzgerald said on his The Left Wing podcast last year.

"There was a clip with Cian Healy down in Thomond Park which I thought was a step too far. He shouldn't be commentating on the game. His first focus is to make it a good spectacle, that he referees the game correctly.

"We're heading into a dangerous territory for me. It's a soccer thing, when you have everyone on the pitch talking to the referee, the referee trying to be too smart, trying to be friendly with the players

"I'd rather he just refereed the game well. The first job of the referee is to almost be anonymous and that's the first duty for him.

"He is taken seriously, he's a brilliant referee, no doubt about that. I just think those kind of things are disappointing and it's disrespectful to the players who are putting in a huge amount of effort.

"There's no place for it in the game. You can't actually speak back. It's almost like a situation where someone is on a podium having a go at someone in the crowd. It's wrong because there's no platform to come back."