'There's no place for it in the game' - Luke Fitzgerald calls on Nigel Owens to stop using witty putdowns
Luke Fitzgerald has called on renowned Welsh referee Nigel Owens to stop using one-liners and putdowns while officiating.
Renowned as one of the best refs in the game, Owens, who reffed the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, is also known for making headlines for his witty comments during games while communicating with players.
There was another example of it over the weekend during Munster's 10-7 victory over Glasgow.
Billy Holland threw a misplaced pass just after Owens had called advantage over and when Holland asked why the play wasn't being brought back for the initial infringement, he said: "Advantage is over there lads," he said.
"It's poor play by you there on the pass. Under no pressure there."
Holland cheekily responded: "Cheers coach."
The funny exchange was shared around social media over the weekend but Fitzgerald believes this is an aspect to his refereeing that Owens needs to curtail.
He cited an incident during Leinster's meeting with Munster in December when Owens penalised Cian Healy at a ruck. He told the prop: "The hands out rule changed three years ago, where have you been?"
"I don't like it personally," Luke Fitzgerald said on this week's episode of The Left Wing
"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."