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Heineken Cup
Owens overlooked for final after 'pressure' from French
ESPN Staff
May 4, 2014
Nigel Owens in action at the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images
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Nigel Owens appears to have paid the price for awarding Saracens a controversial penalty try during their Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Clermont by being overlooked for the final on May 24.

The Sunday Times reports that Owens, who had been favourite to take charge of the clash between Saracens and Toulon at the Millennium Stadium, has been rejected in favour of Alain Rolland after pressure on the refereeing selection panel from French representatives.

The French lobby was angered by the penalty try awarded by Owens at Twickenham, which came when Clermont fly-half Brock James batted the ball out of play behind his own tryline. Owens also sent James to the sin-bin, although it was unclear whether Saracens would definitely have scored but for the infringement, thereby justifying a penalty try.

Rolland, who retires at the end of the season, has the advantage of being bilingual. However he has attracted criticism for being too strict when officiating the attacking team. He took charge of the 2004 final between London Wasps and Toulouse, as well as last season's decider between Toulon and Clermont Auvergne.

Welshman Owens will appear as an assistant referee for the final, along with George Clancy of Ireland.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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