Tom Shanklin embroiled in heated row with fans after Scrum V appearance

Shanklin has doubled down on his assessment of the controversial incident
Shanklin has doubled down on his assessment of the controversial incident -Credit:BBC

Former Wales international Tom Shanklin has become embroiled in a lively social media row with rugby fans after doubling down on his assessment of the Ulster v Cardiff controversy.

Matt Sherratt's men fell to an agonising defeat in Belfast on Friday night after an incident in the closing moments denied them an important win. Ahead by a single point with just two minutes left on the clock, Theo Cabango raced over in the corner to score a try that would have sealed his hat-trick and the win for the visitors - only for play to be called back.

The TMO had judged Cardiff hooker Rhys Carre to have knocked the ball on when intercepting a John Cooney pass, meaning the try was chalked off just as Tinus de Beer was lining up his conversion. In a remarkable turn of events, Carre was then yellow carded with Cooney being presented with a penalty, which he promptly converted to seal a 19-17 win for the hosts.

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The incident denied Sherratt's side their first win in Ulster for 14 years and came after Thomas Young was denied a try in similarly controversial fashion. However, despite many fans feeling outraged at the decision and the WRU's own report on the match claiming Cardiff had been 'robbed', Shanklin argued post-match that the call was the correct one.

While he praised Cardiff for "giving everything", the former centre said: "It was a penalty. There were a couple of incidents that happened on the right-hand side, when one of the front row puts his hand down, it's an unnatural position, it's instinctive. But, when it's slowed down, it did come off Rhys Carre's hand.

"In real time it looks like it goes backwards, but the initial movement from the ball does go forward, and refs are so hot now on that position, because that's not a tackling position, when your arms are out wide like that, that's not how people tackle," he added. "They haven't won in Ulster for a long time, they haven't won away in a year, so you've got to feel sorry for them. But you can't defend like that with your arms out."

He later posted on X: "Getting stick for calling it, but for me it’s a knock on. Gutting for Cardiff because they deserved the win. Biggest issue was the clear knock on prior to Ulster try," adding: "Also remember I’m not the ref. Thanks." That post led Welsh refereeing legend Nigel Owens to lend his support as he replied: "You should be a ref. Comes off Carre's hand first so knock on blue first offence."

However, despite Owens' endorsement, Shanklin faced plenty of criticism from fans, who maintained that the game-changing decision was incredibly harsh and the pundit was "totally wrong" in his assessment. After one supporter accused the ex-Cardiff man of having had a "nightmare [by] doubling down on this one", he hit back: "Just for a second have a think about the due diligence I would do before coming on the show. The former refs, players etc I’ve spoken to. I mean this as no offence but I listen to their opinion over yours."

That led some to claim he had a "holier than thou attitude," but Shanklin quickly replied: "If you have a pop at me, I'll have a pop back, be respectful and I'll be respectful back". Another supporter said that he "wasn't convincing anyone", to which he said: "I don't care what you think. Appreciate you have an opinion and no issues. Angry at myself for replying now."

While the debate could rumble on for a while yet, the 70-cap international has seemed to draw a line under the incident as he signed off from X on Sunday night by posting: "Nos da Warrior. Much love."