Despite refereeing at the top level for almost two decades, Nigel Owens was never forced off the field through injury in a competitive match.

But, what happens when a match official pulls a muscle in the act of keeping up with play? 

In episode five of his hilarious YouTube show, Whistle Watch, Owens reveals all as he takes a wander down memory lane.

“I’ve been very lucky injury-wise,” he said. “Only once I've had to leave the pitch and that was a pre-season friendly, it was Dragons against Exeter. 

“I pulled my hamstring about five minutes before the end of the game. Gwyn Morris was my assistant referee so he came on to take my place and Gwyn was so excited he played about an extra 15 minutes. 

“The team manager of Exeter comes to me: ‘Nigel, how much time is left?’ I said: ‘I think he's enjoying himself!’” 

Watch episode five of Whistle Watch above and be sure to check the official World Rugby YouTube channel every Wednesday for the latest instalment.

‘You can’t lead with the elbow’

Last weekend’s action featured contentious red cards awarded in both the English Premiership and the PRO14.

In episode five, Owens takes a look at the circumstances that led to Ollie Thorley being sent off for Gloucester against Wasps, and Ulster prop Andrew Warwick receiving a red card against Leinster.

On the Thorley incident, Owens said: “[It’s a] very difficult one this because the referee must decide first of all, has there been foul play? 

“So, in this particular incident that would require Ollie Thorley to come in, tackle high, recklessly, causing a head contact, or coming in and leading with a head. 

“If the referee believes that he has done any one of those then he would arrive at the sanction, which in this case is a red card. So, in this incident it comes down to the referee's interpretation.”

Warwick, meanwhile, was given his marching orders at Kingspan Stadium having carried the ball into contact with his left arm raised.

“Some of you may have seen the red card in the Ulster-Leinster [match] in the PRO14 on the weekend, so let me explain the law to you,” Owens said. 

“When a player is running in, to tackle or [as the] ball carrier, what you can't do is lead with the elbow. Hand-off is completely legal. 

“If you want to go and brace yourself then your elbow must be tight and braced into your side, and then if you make contact and then push off afterwards, then that would be ‘play on’. 

“But, if you raise your elbow before the contact then you'll be looking at a sanction.”

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