Connect with us

Rugby Union

World Rugby appeals against overturned Farrell red card

England captain Owen Farrell’s involvement in the upcoming World Cup was thrown into fresh doubt Thursday when World Rugby announced it would be appealing against the decision to overturn his red card in a warm-up match against Wales.

Farrell was sent off during England’s 19-17 win at Twickenham last weekend after the ‘bunker’ review system upgraded an initial yellow card to red after he made contact with a shoulder-led tackle to the head of Taine Basham.

The fly-half who has been suspended for previous incidents of dangerous tackling, was facing a six-week ban that could have ruled him out of the start of next month’s World Cup in France.

But an all-Australian disciplinary panel caused uproar on Tuesday by concluding 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.”

As a result, it ruled Farrell was free to play again immediately.

But World Rugby said in a statement Thursday: “Having considered the full written decision, World Rugby considers an appeal to be warranted.”

World Rugby has yet to release the specific grounds for the appeal.

‘Player welfare number one priority’

Its statement said: “World Rugby fully supports the important role that an independent disciplinary process plays in upholding the integrity and values of the sport, particularly regarding foul play involving head contact. 

“Player welfare is the sport’s number one priority, and the Head Contact Process is central to that mission at the elite level of the sport.”

It added: “An independent appeal committee will be appointed to determine the matter at the earliest possible opportunity.”

What this means for Farrell’s availability to face top-ranked Ireland, — a team coached by his father, Andy— in a Dublin warm-up on Saturday is currently unclear.

England coach Steve Borthwick is due to announce his side to play the Six Nations Grand Slam champions later on Thursday.

Owen Farrell received a three-match ban for the same offence in January, on top of five matches in 2020 and two in 2016.

Farrell admitted to the panel his shoulder-led tackle to the head of Basham, who as a result failed an HIA, was illegal but worthy of only 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

The video hearing decided a “late change in dynamics” due to Jamie George’s involvement in the contact area “brought about a sudden and significant change in direction from the ball carrier”.

The new ‘bunker’ review system was called into action as on-field referee Nika Amashukeli could not decide if Farrell’s tackle on Basham warranted a straight red card.

The panel added no criticism of the foul play review officer was being made given the time in which he had to make a decision.

England’s Steve Thompson, the 2003 World Cup-winning hooker diagnosed with dementia and now among several former players taking legal action against governing bodies for negligence, told the Daily Mail: “For (the rugby authorities) to have the spotlight on them so much, about all the concussion and brain injuries, and for them to do this now, just goes to show that they don’t care.” 

But former England coach Eddie Jones, now in charge of Australia, defended the “aggressive” Farrell by saying: “What can look like a bad tackle can just be a slight error of judgment.

“I’m glad they (the panel) used common sense. We want the game to be safer, but we’ve got to use our common sense.”

Farrell, 31, has endured repeated criticism for his tackling style, with his most recent suspension coming after an illegal challenge on Gloucester’s Jack Clement in January.

That ban was reduced from four to three games after Farrell completed World Rugby’s tackle school, enabling him to face Scotland in the Six Nations opener.

England, losing finalists in 2019, launch their World Cup campaign against Argentina in Marseille on September 9.

They also face Japan, Chile and Samoa in Pool D.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


World Cup News


More in Rugby Union