BBC forced to respond after shocking subtitle gaffe during Scotland vs England

Saracens v ASM Clermont Auvergne -  Champions Cup

On Saturday, England took on Scotland in the Calcutta Cup live on BBC One in a broadcast received across Britain.

The match was one that England fans will be keen to put behind them with the Scots pulling off a shock victory to open up the Six Nations title race - Scotland's first win against England at home in 14 years.

Another group keen to put the match behind them will the be the BBC chiefs in charge of rugby coverage.

Why you ask?

Well, after 65 minutes of the match, the world's number one referee Nigel Owens stepped in to show England flanker Sam Underhill a yellow card. The decision itself isn't what caught the attention of readers of WalesOnline, however, it was what the BBC automated subtitling software displayed underneath. 

The subtitle in question was explaining the referee's decision to show the card and read: 'Nigel Owens is a gay penalty and yellow card'.

This was quickly corrected to: 'Nigel Owens is saying penalty and yellow card'.

It might just be a case of amazing coincidence, but Owens was the first openly gay man to officiate at the highest level of rugby union.

Owens has previously cut an inspirational figure when talking openly about the mental struggles that hiding his sexuality caused prior to his announcement in 2007.


A BBC Spokesperson said: “Our live subtitling service produces accuracy levels in excess of 98% but, as with all broadcasters, there are instances - particularly during live broadcasts - when mistakes happen.

"On this occasion the voice recognition subtitling software made an error which was spotted and corrected immediately."

It was not an easy weekend for the Welsh referee all-round after he suffered a Twitter bashing at the hands of the BBC's own Nick Knowles (of DIY SOS fame).

See the subtitles from BBC below.


Reacting angrily to the decision to chalk off an Owen Farrell try, Knowles tweeted: "So Nigel Owens single handedly trying to avenge the England defeat of Wales - let them play. Refs are not the stars of the show."

Legends of the English game were quick to jump to Owens' defence, however, with tweets from Sir Clive Woodward and Will Greenwood commenting on Owens' 'excellent performance' and dismissing the criticisms as 'embarrassing'.

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