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06th Nov 2018

‘We won, so shut up!’ – James Haskell goes off on one about Owen Farrell tackle

Patrick McCarry

James Haskell

You have to hand it to Rassie Erasmus here.

The South Africa head coach did his best to temper his emotions in the wake of his side’s 12-11 defeat to England, at Twickenham.

The former director of rugby at Munster would have been livid with his Springboks team blowing a golden opportunity to win at English Rugby’s headquarters and his mood was not improved by Owen Farrell’s shoulder-heavy demolition job tackle on sub Andre Esterhuizen.

The tackle – a hefty shoulder into the chest of the ball-carrying Esterhuizen – led to a turnover by England, as Zach Mercer and Mark Wilson poached the ball and it was kicked to touch. There was a TMO review but Farrell was given the benefit of the doubt.

Post-match, Erasmus’ take on the tackle was laced with sarcasm… or so we thought. Erasmus said:

“If it was ‘legal’ we should just do it. Because it’s very effective. Obviously, to tackle a guy like André Esterhuizen like that and stop him in his tracks that’s unbelievable. So we’ll just have to try and practice that.”

The South African was true to his word, though, and both he and Jacques Nienaber has Esterhuizen in for tackle practice, on Monday, that saw the Sharks star mimic Farrell’s high shot.

The footage has provided enough fuel for the Farrell tackle debate to run on 24 more hours. Handy, then, that James Haskell has offered his take on the hot topic.

Haskell, who joined host Alex Payne and Rob Vickerman on JOE UK’s House of Rugby, commented, “I am completely the wrong man to ask about this, for the sole reason that as soon as I saw it – and I was pitch-side – I was like, ‘That’s absolute champagne. Well done Owen. You’ve absolutely ended the bloke’.”

The Northampton and England back-row felt Farrell’s cross-body tackle on Esterhuizen was “unbelievable”. He added:

“I thought it was brilliant. I would be proud of that hit if that were me.

“I know in the climate now… but I looked at it and thought, ‘Absolutely fine’. The collision is so big that there is no chance for him to wrap.”

He added, “Let’s be honest NOBODY CARES because they are not going to replay the game, right? We won, so shut up.

“I was involved in some debates today between people [and] they were like, ‘Wrapping his arms’, and they were slowing [the footage] down. At the end of the day, Owen went in, smoked the bloke and won the game. That is all that matters…

“I personally, for my opinion, think it was a champagne tackle. I thought it was unbelievable. If you hit somebody that hard, across the body, the only thing you’ll be wrapping up is a plastic bag to put him in the bin. There are no other qualms about it.”

Saying all of that, Haskell did note that Vickerman showed him World Rugby’s video example of a high shoulder hit without the wrapping of arms and he admitted it was a ‘carbon copy’ of Farrell’s game-ender.

Haskell is correct, however. The game is now in the history books and England are the victors.

Onwards to the All Blacks at Twickenham, on Saturday, and a whole heap of new talking points.

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