Exeter star took exception to Olly Woodburn's red card against Leicester


Jack Nowell could miss Exeter’s Champions Cup semi-final against La Rochelle after he was cited by the RFU for a Twitter outburst following Olly Woodburn’s controversial red card against Leicester Tigers.

Wing Nowell, Chiefs’ regular captain of late, did not play in the 62-19 defeat at Welford Road on Sunday due to a knock but took issue with referee Karl Dickson’s decision to show Woodburn a second yellow card and award Tigers a penalty try early in the second half.

Read more: Bizarre Woodburn red card leaves Exeter Chiefs players fuming

Winger Woodburn was penalised for ‘diving on a tackled player on the floor’ as he attempted to help Stuart Hogg bundle Chris Ashton into touch having already been sin-binned in the first half for a deliberate knock-on.

Ashton’s toe touched the line to prevent him scoring his 100th try but the 36-year-old would not be denied for long, bringing up a century of Premiership tries before completing a hat-trick and celebrating in style.

Writing on Twitter, Nowell said: “I’m actually in shock, like shock shocked. What the hell is happening?

“That’s one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. EVER.”

Related: Ashton becomes first to score 100 Premiership tries

The tweet has since been deleted but Nowell will now face a disciplinary panel on Wednesday evening after being charged with “conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and the game” and even if he is fit enough to face the side that are widely reported to be signing him for next season, a ban could rule him out of contention.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the RFU said: “Jack Nowell, Exeter Chiefs, has been charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and the game under RFU rule 5.12 for Tweeted criticism of the referee’s decision in the Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs match on 16 April, to his 61,000 plus followers.

“The case will be heard tomorrow evening by an independent disciplinary panel chaired by Matthew O’Grady, sitting with Martyn Wood and Guy Lovgreen.”

Nowell was not the only Exeter player to take to social media during the game with England centre Henry Slade tweeting “I have no words” before later deleting the message.

Injured hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie tweeted “omg rugby has lost the plot” and “yeah just let him score mate” alongside crying laughing emojis. Cowan-Dickie’s tweets were still visible at the time of writing and he even replied to Exeter’s post announcing Nowell’s citing by saying: “Bit of a joke”.

In 2021, England international Anthony Watson was given a suspended one-week ban for “conduct prejudicial to the interest of the game by disrespecting the authority of a match official” after similarly tweeting his disapproval at a refereeing decision.

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