Nigel Owens, the renowned rugby referee, has addressed the persistent query that plagues the minds of rugby enthusiasts: the apparent leniency towards scrum-halves who feed the ball into scrums at an angle.
In virtually every scrum, witnessed in professional rugby encounters, scrum-halves frequently opt to send the ball towards the feet of their team’s hooker, rather than directing it straight down the center of the set-piece channel.
Speaking during a Q&A, Owens said: “I’m not surprised so many people asked that because that gets asked pretty much everywhere I go.
“They’re right. We are not good enough as referees refereeing it. That’s the simple answer.
“There are many reasons for that, don’t get me wrong. You can have so many problems in the scrum and you’re focussing on the front row, the height, the binding, especially if scrums are a nightmare in some games.
“You’re focussing so much on those other things, the feed is down your checklist, you know. That’s not an excuse but it is a contributing factor.
“The long and the short of it is we need to get back to refereeing the feed better, there’s no doubt. We don’t do it and we should be doing it.
“You’ve also got ask the nines why put it in that way, mind.
“But we do talk about it as referees when we get together and that is something I would like to see change to make it a fair contest.
“Everybody always asks about it so it obviously it is a bugbear for everybody in the game.
“So, I agree, as referees – me included – we’re just not good enough with it.”
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Nigel Owens reveals who was worst to referee between Biggar, Farrell and Sexton
Nigel Owens, a former Welsh referee who retired from officiating at the Test level in 2020, has taken the opportunity to reflect on the best and worst players he encountered during his career.
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Despite his busy schedule managing his farm, Owens remains engaged in the rugby community, lending his expertise as a pundit and appearing in video features for prominent platforms such as the BBC, Amazon Prime, and World Rugby.
While he no longer referees professional club games, his last match in that capacity was a centenary fixture between Trimsaran and Llanelli, which took place in March of this year.
Arguably, the three worst players to deal with these days are Owen Farrell, Dan Biggar and Johnny Sexton.
Owens has had his say on all three, ranking them from worst to best.
#3. Owen Farrell (England)
Farrell, the English rugby captain, epitomizes leadership and respect. Renowned for his versatility as a fly-half or centre, he combines skill and discipline, serving as a linchpin in England’s rugby campaigns.
Nigel Owens said: “I can only speak from my own experience of refereeing him and, when I did, he was an excellent captain to deal with.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him as a player and a person. He always knew where the line was with me.
“I would say to him that he could always come and talk to me as long as it was at the right time and in the right tone and he always did that.”