Nigel Owens says Wales winger unlucky to see yellow at Loftus: 'For me, this was textbook defending'

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Louis Rees-Zammit tackles Willie le Roux. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Louis Rees-Zammit tackles Willie le Roux. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Renowned former Test referee Nigel Owens believes Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit was unlucky to receive a yellow card at a critical stage during his side's 32-29 loss to the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

Rees-Zammit's brace of tries put Wales 18-3 up at half-time but they could not hold on in the second half.

Wales received four yellow cards in the match and at one stage were down to 12 men.

Rees-Zammit's yellow card came seven minutes from time when the Welsh speedster was penalised after hauling down Willie le Roux as he looked set to score. Rees-Zammit was adjudged to have intentionally slowed play down, with the Springboks scoring a penalty try from the following move.

Owens, however, believes Rees-Zammit could count himself unlucky to have been shown yellow.

"Not as a Welshman but as an ex-referee, yes for me it was a bit harsh," said Owens on World Rugby's Whistle Watch programme.

"A player does a defending tackle, he needs to release the player on the ground, he needs to get up on his feet on the right side behind the ball and the ball-carrier with the back towards his own tryline and then on his feet to play the ball.

"For me, this is textbook defending by Louis Rees-Zammit. Great tackle, releases, gets to his feet so you have a clear release and then he gets on the ball legally on his feet. This, for me, is a very harsh penalty, let alone a yellow card. For me, this was textbook defending and should have been play on."

With time running out, Wales were down to 13 men when they scored a maul try to level matters. However, the Springboks won a last-gasp penalty which Damian Willemse kicked over to seal the victory.

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