An independent disciplinary hearing panel’s decision to reduce a ban for England captain Owen Farrell from ten weeks to five based on various testimonials has not gone down very well. The Saracens fly-half was handed the suspension on Tuesday night for his red card offence in last Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership contest with Wasps.

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The panel deemed the high tackle on Charlie Atkinson “reckless and not intentional”, with independent panel chair Mike Hamlin adding: “Testimonials provided by Mark McCall, Eddie Jones and the founders of a charity with which the player works very closely were of the highest quality.” 

This resulted in the ban being halved to ‘five meaningful matches’, an outcome that has caused quite a stir on social media.

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Ireland 7s player and Love Island contestant Greg O’Shea guests on All Access, the Rugby Pass interview series hosted by Jim Hamilton

Many disgruntled people feel Farrell’s charity work was irrelevant when it came to dangerous play on a rugby field. In a collision that left Atkinson unconscious, which many have branded as potentially “career-ending”, a mass of people felt any prior charity work should have had no bearing on the hearing decision. 

The input of McCall and Jones, the respective Saracens and England head coaches of Farrell, was also questioned as it was in both of their interests to have the player’s ban reduced as much as possible.

While a five-game ban has clearly displeased some, there was always a sense that any length of a ban was going to be controversial. It didn’t take much trawling through Twitter to see that many people were gunning for far longer bans than were perhaps unnecessary and wildly outside World Rugby’s sanctions for foul play.  

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A ten-game ban would not have caused as much of an outcry, but the 50 per cent reduction incensed. Farrell will be able to return to play from October 5, meaning he will miss Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster this month but won’t miss any of England’s games which start in late October.

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