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Showing card to ball-boy 'natural', says Owens


Rugby referee: Nigel Owens

Rugby referee: Nigel Owens

Rugby referee: Nigel Owens

Rugby ref Nigel Owens, who jokingly showed a Leinster ball-boy a yellow card after he hit him with a ball, has said it was "the natural thing to do".

Joe Downey (15), from St Conleth's school in south Dublin, accidentally hit Owens with a ball in Leinster's 47-9 win over Scarlets in the RDS last weekend.


Leinster ball boy Joe Downey (15)

Leinster ball boy Joe Downey (15)

"He just chucked the ball on and caught me at the back of the head," said Owens.

"So I just looked around and he was on the side of the touchline with a big fright on his face going 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry', so I just reacted and gave him the yellow card.

"He sort of trundled off and the crowd cheered and I gave him a smile and I went to shake his hand then afterwards."


The incident occurred with six minutes remaining when a ball was flung back in to play as the Scarlets prepared to take a penalty.

The high-profile referee said he found Joe on Facebook on Tuesday and offered to post him his match jersey from the game.

"I was quite surprised that so many people thought it was wonderful when I was just thinking this is something I would do every day," he said.

He said that he wouldn't have done it if the game had been "dirty" and yellow or red cards had already been shown.

"If there had been some controversy before then I may not have reacted like that," he said.

His added that timing was everything. "We must never lose our sense of humility and humanity, and I think sometimes life is too serious," he said.

Mr Owens spoke at a conference run by the Irish Business Employers Confederation (Ibec) in Dublin yesterday.

He told the crowd that he planned to retire in 2020 after the next Rugby World Cup set to be held in Japan in 2019.

Irish Independent