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15th Aug 2023

England receive massive World Cup boost as Owen Farrell escapes any ban

Patrick McCarry

Owen Farrell

A huge call, here.

Owen Farrell has been told he can immediately return to play and will not receive any ban, despite his recent red card against Wales. The red card decision was ‘not upheld’ by a disciplinary committee and he could even face Ireland in Dublin, this weekend.

The England captain has been cleared of any ban, after he was sent off in England’s warm-up win over Wales. He is now free to play his side’s two final warm-ups, against Ireland and Fiji, as well as two World Cup pool stage games.

Farrell had initially been yellow-carded for his no-arms tackle on Taine Basham, but that was upgraded to a red after a TMO ‘bunker review’ into the incident:

Owen Farrell to miss World Cup matches

Following the game, Owen Farrell was duly cited and a date was set to bring him before a disciplinary panel. An all-Australian trio of Adam Casseldan and former Wallaby internationals John Langford and David Croft, will assess the incident and determine the length of Farrell’s likely ban.

Langford is also a former Munster second row, having lined out for the province between 1999 and 2001, making 30 appearances for the southern province.

Farrell appeared before a video disciplinary hearing, which began on Tuesday morning, to discover his fate. He is being represented by Richard Smith, the leading QC employed by the RFU. The entry point on mid-range sanctions for dangerous tackles is six games. Farrell received a three-match ban, reduced from four, for a similar offence, earlier this season. However, there would be no ban at all, as the Six Nations Rugby release reads:

‘The player acknowledged that whilst he had committed an act of foul play, he denied that the act was worthy of a red card.  After reviewing all the evidence, questioning the player in detail and hearing submissions from the player’s representative, the Committee concluded that the Foul Play Review Officer was wrong, on the balance of probabilities, to upgrade the yellow card issued to the player to a red card.

‘The Committee determined, when applying World Rugby’s Head Contact Process, that mitigation should be applied to the high degree of danger found by the Foul Play Review Officer.  The Committee found that a late change in dynamics due to England #2’s interaction in the contact area brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier.  In the Committee’s opinion, this mitigation was sufficient to bring the player’s act of foul play below the red car threshold.

‘The Committee believe it is important to record, that no criticism is made of the Foul Play Review Officer nor, would any be warranted.  Unlike the Foul Play Review Officer the Committee had the luxury of time to deliberate and consider, in private, the incident and the proper application of the Head Contact Process.  The Committee believe this is in contrast to the Foul Play Review Officer, who was required to make his decision in a matter of minutes without the benefit of all the additional material including hearing from the player and his legal representative.

‘On that basis, the Committee did not uphold the red card and the player is free to play again immediately.’

England start off their World Cup campaign on Sunday, September 9 with a crucial game against Argentina, in Marseille. They then face Japan, before closing out that stage with games against Chile and Samoa.

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