Scotland fans took to social media to praise former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell, after the ex-Munster lock took John Inverdale to task over his comments following the 25-13 Calcutta Cup victory over England at Murrayfield.
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The Limerick man was part of the BBC’s coverage of the Six Nations clash, alongside fellow ex-internationals Jeremy Guscott, Martin Johnson and Andy Nicol.
Twice in the second half, England fans may have assumed their team had clawed the game back with two vital tries, but on both occasions, referee Nigel Owens halted the celebrations.
In the first incident, an intercept try for Danny Care – who crossed twice in England’s 61-21 mauling of Scotland last year – was called back by Owens for a penalty against Joe Launchbury in a ruck.
And later, Owen Farrell touched down only for the TMO to reveal a knock-on by Courtney Lawes in a tackle on Scotland skipper John Barclay.
During the post-match discussion, Inverdale suggested that Owens’ performance could come under scrutiny, saying: “A lot of debate is going to be about how Nigel Owens handled the game, particularly in the second half and one or two key decisions that were made.”
Replays of both incidents were then shown on the BBC’s coverage of the match, with Johnson commenting “Technically… Nigel’s right” following playback of the Care incident, but O’Connell replied: “If you want to do a forensic analysis of the game… if you’re an England supporter then you can look at every ruck and see a penalty for you; you can see one for Scotland if you’re a Scotland supporter.
“But – in my eyes – I thought Nigel Owens had a good game.”
Several Scotland fans backed up O’Connell’s comments on social media, with one writing: “Well done Paul O’Connell. Shutting down any nonsense about Nigel Owens’ excellent performance. Great game and top unbiased analysis.”
David Power said: “Fair play to Paul O’Connell for not going along with John Inverdale’s s***e about Nigel Owens” while Clive Morgan added: “My favourite moment was John Inverdale suggesting post match that England lost because of Nigel Owens. Paul O’Connell put him right on that and said he had a good game.”
Hamish Hamilton tweeted: “Love Paul O’Connell just putting John Inverdale’s bias in the bin. Scotland were the better team, end of!”
Owens’ performance also won plaudits from former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward and ex-England centre Will Greenwood.
Woodward sent a message to Owens on Twitter, saying: “Once again excellent performance from you and both teams know the right team won – well done again, it was a great 6 nations game and will I think be the making of both teams – it should be anyway.”
Greenwood, capped 55 times by England, added: “Embarrassed by some of the comments made towards Nigel Owens – watched game for second time – particular focus on key decisions… England can have no complaints about Scotland win.
“Many things to blame – None of them Nigel.”
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