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18th Mar 2023

Owen Farrell’s comments picked up on referee microphone after controversial red card

Rory Fleming

Owen Farrell red card

The England captain was in disbelief with Jaco Peyper’s decision.

England fly half and captain Owen Farrell was incredulous with referee Jaco Peyper following the South African’s brandishing of a red card to English full back Freddie Steward, during their defeat at the hands of Grand Slam winning Ireland.

During Peyper’s explanation of the decision to dismiss the Leicester Tigers full back, Farrell’s comments to the referee were picked up by the broadcaster thanks to the referee’s microphone.

“Oh no? Red card?!” exclaimed the 31-year-old, before arguing “He’s (Steward) trying to get out of the contact!”

It’s been a Championship to forget for Farrell and England. (Credit: Getty Images)

A host of former England internationals also took to social media in the aftermath of the incident to express their dismay with the red card call, with the likes of Harlequins prop Joe Marler labelling it as “utterly ridiculous”.

Speaking on BBC Five Live, former England and Wasps scrum half Matt Dawson voiced his anger regarding the sending off, which ultimately proved to be a fatal moment for an England side who fell to their third defeat of the tournament.

“He is stepping and slowing and turning to get out of the contact area, and has been punished by being sent off. It is a mockery. He was doing his utmost to avoid any kind of contact. It is an utter farce”, said the former British and Irish Lion.

Owen Farrell red cardFormer England scrum half Matt Dawson labelled the red card “a mockery”. (Credit: Getty Images)

‘Freddie was not trying to make a tackle’

England head coach Steve Borthwick, who has endured an arduous first Six Nations campaign at the helm of English rugby, also called Peyper’s decision into question in the post-match press conference.

“We can talk about tackle height, and have a conversation about it. What’s clear, though, is that Freddie was not trying to make a tackle. If you want to talk about that, we can talk about that”, said the former Saracens and England lock.

Owen Farrell had a second bite of the cherry too, this time from the comfort of the lavish Aviva Stadium media centre, rather than the heat of battle.

“I was surprised (with the decision), if I’m honest. But it’s not up to us. We don’t make the rules, as players and we don’t hear what’s going on in the ref’s mic, and the process they go through”, remarked Owen Farrell.

Whilst disappointed with the final result, and one which resigned England to a fourth placed finish, Farrell was quick to praise the attitude and performance of his English side, particularly off the back of their record defeat at the hands of the French last weekend.

“It was a brilliant Test match, well contested and the way we responded after that red card was very good. We fought for each other but, unfortunately, we didn’t end up on the right side of the result”, the three-time British and Irish Lion stated.

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