There has been scant support for Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell following his Gallagher Premiership red card at the weekend against Wasps. The high tackle on Charlie Atkinson, which resulted in his sending off after 60 minutes, was indefensible.

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However, the reaction in the wake of the X-rated incident has been far more than simply criticising the tackle. 

The England captain is a polarising character – and many seem to be basking in what is being said about him as he awaits his RFU hearing this Tuesday night. 

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Former Scotland international player and coach Ian McGeechan talks about the British and Irish Lions

Ex-Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies is one rugby luminary that has come out in support of Farrell. He said: “That edge he has in him is what makes him special.” 

Meanwhile, ex-England captain Will Carling has agreed with Davies, adding: “Anyone who knows him understands he is a tough competitor but a great guy. He is not the rubbish people on here make him out to be. Jealousy of his position and ability is sad to see.”

Neither Davies nor Carling would say that the tackle was acceptable and Farrell will undoubtedly face a ban, but the response – largely on social media – has gone beyond discussing that tackle alone from the Saracens player.

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Many have said that Farrell has a long history of dangerous tackles, many of which went unpunished, and that is ultimately fuelling the acerbic reaction. This is not the first time that Farrell’s tackle technique has come under the spotlight and although his aggression is one of his defining traits, Davies did concede that “he knows he has to control it”. 

It seems highly likely that the fly-half will now be absent from Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster on September 19, but he could return for England ahead of the conclusion of the Guinness Six Nations on October 31 which will be followed by the one-off Eight Nations. 

Should Saracens win in Dublin, the 28-year-old could even return for the reigning champions for the remainder of the tournament depending on the length of his suspension. 

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