Nigel Owens accused of 'bottling' massive Rob Kearney decision
66 minutes into the Guinness PRO14 final and a huge moment in the game.
Leinster were 18-10 ahead but Glasgow Warriors had just turned the ball over after surviving a storm.
Glasgow made a clearing kick and Rob Kearney chased back before pumping a up-and-under back into the opposition half. Up soared Stuart Hogg, not for the first time, and he claimed the take before, a split-second later, Kearney arrived.
Hogg was sent hurtling, uncontrolled, to the deck and his landing looked awful. Medics rushed on and a brawl ensued, with most of the starting XVs getting involved.
Glasgow fans screamed for a red card and slow motion replays only increased their ire, and collective noise.
One first, second and third glimpse, the collision looked bad and Kearney was in danger of being shown a straight red card.
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) May 25, 2019
Referee Nigel Owens looked at a couple more replays and, with Hogg landing on his shoulder and not head, appeared to make his mind up.
There was a brief few words with the TMO before Owens turned to Kearney and said:
"You're careless, you got your timing wrong and it is a yellow card. Off you go."
"You're careless, you got your timing wrong and it is a yellow card.
"Off you go!"
A yellow card for Rob Kearney for a high challenge on Stuart Hogg.
The partisan Glasgow crowd think it should have been a red card!#GLAvLEI #GuinnessPRO14 pic.twitter.com/4fkejtBR3H
— eir Sport (@eirSport) May 25, 2019
Kearney returned for the final five minutes of the game as Leinster held on to win 18-15, and claim another league title.
In the post-match analysis on eir Sport, former Leinster star Luke Fitzgerald stated that the wrong colour of card had been flashed.
"I think it is a red card," he said, "and Leinster might have got away with one."
Over on social media, few were disagreeing and Owens was accused of "bottling" a big call.
Did Rob Kearney or Nigel Owens get man of the match? Those were the two involved in the biggest incident #pro14final
— John Hamilton 🏴 (@johnham666) May 25, 2019
And Nigel Owens bottling a red card.
— David Richardson (@Davidbrich79) May 25, 2019
Any notion that Nigel Owens is the best referee in the world should be firmly dismissed by that performance. Absolute shocking. Kearney should have had a red. Every time there was breaks in play he was over talking to Leinster. A disgrace.
— Neil Macdougall 🏴🏴 (@DougallChops) May 25, 2019
Conditions against Glasgow tonight & that’s without mentioning Nigel Owens poor performance. No complaints with Glasgow yellow but bottled a Kearney red & that’s without his ‘dodgy’ reffing at scrum. How many times can Healy’s elbow hit ground first before a pen against him?
— Mark Smith (@jaggo2210) May 25, 2019
Fuck. Unlucky Glasgow. Feels a bit like they lost that game to a couple of bad decisions by Nigel Owens.
— David Hill (@teuchterdavid) May 25, 2019
The Glasgow fans were howling for calls all night, but they could have had a case over the Kearney incident.