Former England centre Will Greenwood says referee Pascal Gauzere compounded an error from two years ago by wrongly awarding Wales two tries vs England in the Six Nations on Saturday.
Wales defeated England in Cardiff on Saturday in Round 3 of the championship, but did so in highly controversial circumstances after opening tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams.
In the lead-up to Adams’ try, referee Gauzere had asked England captain Owen Farrell to speak to his players under his own posts, before allowing Wales’ Dan Biggar to take a quick-tap penalty out to an unmarked Adams to score. Williams’ score then came despite replays showing Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit had lost control of the ball out of his hands before it hit his leg to go backwards.
Greenwood outlines the reasons neither try should have been awarded, while also highlighting that Gauzere has some history with England – having allowed Biggar to take a quick penalty leading to a try for Wales against England in the summer of 2019 before Anthony Watson – who had been sin-binned – had departed the field.
“So for the first try, there isn’t actually anything in the law that says he did anything wrong. However…” Greenwood told Sky Sports News on Tuesday.
“The reality is that when as a referee you ask a captain to address his players and they’re in the 22, the pitch is 70 metres wide and the dead ball area 10 metres long, so that’s 30 metres by 70 metres – 2100 square metres 15 players have got to cover.
“You ask a captain to bring them into a 3×2 space – six metres – you have left 2094 square metres for Wales to do whatever they want, and in cahoots!
“Dan Biggar goes: ‘Pascal,’ – I don’t think he actually called him Pascal, but he might as well have! It was like a scene from ‘Allo ‘Allo!: ‘Can you just tell me when time is on…’, Gauzere: ‘Certainly….time’s on!’
“And actually, I paused the video. He blows his whistle and by the time he shouts ‘time’s on’, the ball is at the apex of its kick on the way to Josh Adams.
“Who should be there? Anthony Watson. In midfield to the right of the posts should be both centres. Everyone should be spread along in a line, with one player covering in behind.
“Don’t have a pop at England saying it was schoolboy stuff etc, you can argue that for Hardy’s try (Wales’ third), where Elliot Daly shouldn’t turn his back, Hardy taps and goes and scores. That was a complete mea culpa in terms of Elliot. You just can’t do that.
“But Pascal Gauzere has history. It was a couple of years ago when Watson was sin-binned that he allowed Dan Biggar to do exactly the same thing, and the law in that instance does say that if you’ve sin-binned a player, you can’t play quickly and have to allow him off.
“He’s compounded the error he made two years ago.
“For the second try, Louis Rees-Zammit is saying after dropping it: ‘Oh god, what have I done? I just missed out on a try’ – and then it’s a try anyway!
“You’ve got to play to the whistle haven’t you, Liam Williams fair play to you. But with this one, Pascal had a pal in TMO Alexandre Ruiz. Let’s not just single out Pascal Gauzere here, that was a double whammy.”
Despite the controversy, England did fight back at the Principality Stadium to level the game at 24-24 in the second half, but a raft of penalty concessions and the boot of Callum Sheedy saw the Test drift away from them.
Greenwood prefers to focus on the Welsh response though rather than English indiscipline as the main factor in the final quarter of Saturday’s dramatic Test.
“Did England concede penalties? Yes. People are saying it was English indiscipline, I’m going to say it was the quality of the Welsh back-row, Alun Wyn Jones and Callum Sheedy, who came on and went: ‘Don’t care it’s 24-24, don’t care we’re on the back-foot, we’re going to continue to play’,” Greenwood added.
“The ball movement from Taulupe Faletau, the tackling of Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi, Sheedy wanting to play on the gain-line, all meant England were under pressure, and when you’re under pressure, penalties happen.
“It’s a combination. With the other two tries I’m completely blaming Pascal Gauzere and saying England were completely and utterly stiffed out of 14 points.
“They then find themselves back in the game, and I’m then not saying it was all England’s fault and Wales did nothing, it was how Wales played that meant England were on the back-foot and they did not do what Wales did.
“The penalties Ellis Genge and Billy Vunipola gave away for sealing off, Wales weren’t doing that.
“I have to take hats off because at 24-24, watching I thought it was England’s. But actually the team that kept playing were Wales.”