Cheslin Kolbe: Nigel Owens says winger lucky not to see red as Springboks level series with Lions

Former referee Nigel Owens says he would have considered a red card for Cheslin Kolbe’s aerial challenge on Conor Murray during South Africa’s win over the British and Irish Lions.

The Springboks convincingly beat the Lions 27-9 to level the three-match Test series ahead of next Saturday’s decider.

The build-up to the game was dominated by SA director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his hour-long rant highlighting 26 clips where he thought the officials got it wrong in the first Test.

However, South Africa can count themselves fortunate that winger Kolbe only got 10 minutes in the sin bin for his challenge in the air.

Owens, who is part of the Sky Sports team covering the Lions tour, said that if a player goes into aerial contact out of control then the first thing the ref should think about is a red card.

“You start at red and then you work down on mitigating circumstances,” said Owens.

“The only circumstances are whether Biggar and Curry have shielded Murray and affected Kolbe’s line of sight?

“But they do not do that and there is no mitigation here – Kolbe has enough time to change what he is doing. The onus is on Kolbe to be aware of the man in the air.”

While Owens believes it should have been a red card, the fact that Murray stuck out his arm to prevent himself from landing on his neck, probably saved the Springbok flyer.

“It would have been a clear red depending on the landing – if Murray did not put his leg out and his arm out then he would have landed on his shoulder and his neck and that would have been a straight red. Kolbe is very lucky here.

“I can understand where the yellow came from, but if I was reffing this then I would be thinking more red than yellow, because Murray’s actions have saved Kolbe – and that should not be part of the equation.”

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