Saturday 19 October 2019

Leinster ball boy who got yellow card from ref Owens delighted it wasn't Wayne Barnes

Leinster ball boy Joe Downey (15)
Leinster ball boy Joe Downey (15)

Gavin White

A Leinster ball boy who received a yellow card from rugby referee Nigel Owens said he was delighted it wasn't English ref Wayne Barnes - "because he would have shown a red".

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, causing a social media storm.

The incident occurred with six minutes remaining in the RDS when Joe threw a ball towards a group of Scarlets players so they could use it to take a penalty.

But the ball hit Owens on the head and the smiling ref jokingly brandished a yellow card to the ball boy, sparking a delighted reaction from the RDS crowd.

Joe said the incident "happening in front of the RDS wasn't my chosen audience".

Owens sought to find Joe after the game to give him his jersey and wrote in a post on Twitter: "This is why rugby is the greatest team sport in the world. Anyone know the ball boy? Will send him my match jersey to keep."

Referee Nigel Owens. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Referee Nigel Owens. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

After contact between Leinster and the referee, Owens arranged to send Joe his jersey in the post.

Joe said he will keep up his ball boy job as was is helping to fundraise for a trip to Uganda next year.

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